Substitute teacher accused of abuse three times stayed in classroom
A Los Angeles substitute teacher who was investigated for alleged sexual misconduct with students and went on to work in the Inglewood school district, where he allegedly molested a second-grade girl, remains at large.
Experts say they can't understand why the Los Angeles Unified School District allowed George Hernandez, now 45, to teach for so long despite the accusations. He was investigated by police three times for alleged sexual misconduct involving students.
After the third investigation in 2007, he resigned from the L.A. district but soon landed a job with the Inglewood Unified School District, where police say they found a videotape showing him molesting a girl.
Charges were filed against Hernandez, who fled. He is thought to be in Mexico.
"This guy should not have been kept in the district," said Kathleen Carroll, an attorney who worked for the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing. "This is an outrage."
L.A. Unified is looking into the situation but has found no evidence that it ever reported Hernandez to the state credentialing commission, said David Holmquist, the district's general counsel.
The commission could have suspended or revoked Hernandez's credential, preventing other school districts from hiring him.
For its part, the Inglewood school district violated its own procedures by not fully vetting Hernandez's background before hiring him.
A civil lawsuit brought by the mother of the Inglewood student alleges L.A. Unified is liable for not taking action against Hernandez before he could harm her daughter.
"This is no different than moving an aberrant priest from one area to another," said Sanford Jossen, a Manhattan Beach attorney representing the girl.
Teachers accused of sexual misconduct but never convicted have long presented school districts with a challenge because of their employment protections. But substitute teachers serve at the will of districts and can be released or fired at any time.
In the last month, several L.A. Unified employees have been accused of abuse, including Mark Berndt, a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School in the Florence-Firestone neighborhood of South Los Angeles, who is charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct against students.
-- Alan Zarembo, Howard Blume and Richard Winton
Photo: George Hernandez booking photo.