A $1 billion lawsuit was filed by popular and well-known teacher Rafe Esquith against the Los Angeles United School District this past October after being forced out of his classroom after supposedly making nudity jokes, which Esquith said was simply the reading of a Mark Twain passage taken out of context — but now the release of a document by LAUSD that contains the details concerning his dismissal has generated more questions for both sides.
The district had previously only spoken in general of the misconduct that resulted in Esquith being fired. According to the document, Esquith is being accused of sexual and physical misconduct that began prior to being hired as a teacher at LA Unified, and continuing throughout his employment there. He has not been officially charged with a crime as of yet.
The document suggests that while Esquith was a counselor at a Jewish community center in the 1970’s he touched the genitals of two boys and a girl. It goes on to suggest that he used sexual innuendos in addition to harassing language with his students, including asking female students to raise their hands if they had started their periods.
It also suggests physical violence toward his students such as slamming a student against a wall in one instance.
The document goes on to say he had sent inappropriate emails to students using a district computer, for example:
“Beautiful. Elegant. Dazzling. Sexy. Gorgeous. You are all of that and much much more” and “You’re soooooooooooooooo fine,” the document claims Esquith wrote to a 14-year-old former student.
Meanwhile, attorneys for Esquith maintain that the allegations are “discredited and baseless.”
Esquith taught English to low-income and minority students in the district and gained international recognition after the publication of several best-selling books on his teaching philosophy, writes Abby Jackson for Business Insider.
The lawsuit he filed in October contained some equally shocking information about the district. Esquith said it was meant to represent other teachers who had faced similar situations.
According to the lawsuit, the school system repeatedly conducted “witch hunts” against teachers that they wanted to force out and putting the teachers in question in “jail” for an indefinite period of time while the investigations occurred. He added that the jails are a “criminal scheme” to “cut costs at students’ expense.”
Esquith argues that the district surprised students at their homes to elicit negative comments about him. Some students said they were harassed and intimidated by the investigators, which caused them to hire their own lawyers, reports Dan Good for The New York Daily News.
Esquith said a pattern of student harassment could be seen throughout the district, saying loaded questions were included in a questionnaire, including “What creepy things did teacher X do? Has teacher X ever looked at you funny? Explain why teacher X may be racist?”
The lawsuit suggests that 2,000 teachers have been deprived of $500,000,000 in benefits by either firing them or forcing them out. The lawsuit is seeking $1 billion in damages.