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Alleged Hart scandal being probed

• Purported employee-student contact under investigation.

Posted: April 28, 2008 8:25 p.m.
Updated: June 30, 2008 5:01 a.m.
 
An employee at a Hart district high school is being investigated for allegedly having an “inappropriate” relationship with a 16-year-old student, it was reported Monday.

Late Monday afternoon, after The Signal interviewed staff members at the William S. Hart Union High School District and one high school principal, the district issued a news release confirming some information that had been reported to the newspaper earlier.

The brief statement reads: “The Hart district is currently investigating allegations of inappropriate contact between an employee and a student. The staff member has been placed on administrative leave pending results of the investigation.

“The Hart district takes such allegations very seriously and will vigorously pursue its investigation in order to protect the safety of students in our schools, while protecting the privacy of any students or employees who may be involved.”

On Saturday, The Signal had received an anonymous phone call from a man identifying himself as a concerned parent of two teenagers. He said a female high school counselor had had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student.

“I think the public has a right to be informed about this,” the caller said. “Right now, (Hart district officials) are trying to have it swept under the rug.”

On Monday, The Signal interviewed Rochelle Neal, assistant superintendent of human resources and student services, about the allegations.

“That’s a personnel matter and I wouldn’t be free to comment,” she said in her office. “All our staff are on paid status.”

She was asked if it was reasonable to deduce that a staff member was on leave if repeated phone calls made to that person went unanswered.

“I guess you could reasonably conclude what you want,” Neal said, citing privacy rights of district employees.

According to the anonymous caller, the matter is also being investigated by the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

A spokesman for the station said the detective who handles such cases was not available for comment Monday.

Repeated calls by The Signal to the counselor identified by Saturday’s anonymous caller went unanswered.

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