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Judge orders L.A. Unified teacher to be fired

January 12, 2010 | 12:24 pm

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ordered this morning that a city school district teacher who was removed from the classroom and has been paid to do nothing for more than seven years be dismissed within two weeks.

Matthew Kim, a former special education teacher at Grant High School, was accused of touching co-workers' breasts and making improper advances and comments toward students. He was fired by the L.A. Unified School Board of Education in 2003, but a state commission that has final say on teacher dismissals overturned the firing.

The district then appealed that decision and has been fighting to terminate him ever since. In the meantime, the district has continued to pay Kim, who was born with severe cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. Because of the district's longstanding interpretation of the teachers contract,  Kim has not been given any duties while he has been outside the classroom.

A Times story in May 2009 found that Kim was one of about 160 district employees who have been "housed" while accusations against them are investigated or their terminations are contested.

Judge David P. Yaffe said the Times exposed the issue and it has become "an embarrassment."

Yaffe ordered the Commission on Professional Competence to allow the district to fire Kim by Jan. 26. If he is later reinstated, the district will give Kim back pay with interest.

Kim has denied any improper behavior and his attorney said he may file a petition to the court of appeal.

L.A. Unified has spent more than $2 million in legal fees and salary on the Kim case.

-- Jason Song

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