Rafe Esquith, a famous public school teacher and author, filed a $1 billion proposed class-action lawsuit in October that made some shocking allegations against the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
The 61-year-old teacher was forced out of the classroom and sent to a purgatory he called “teacher jail” after he supposedly made a joke about nudity, according to the complaint. (Esquith says he simply read his students a Mark Twain passage.)
This week, LAUSD — which previously only spoke generally of the misconduct that led to Esquith’s firing, released a document of the alleged details that led to his dismissal.
The document alleges a 40-year history of sexual and physical misconduct commencing before Esquith was an LA Unified teacher, and continuing through his time with the district. Esquith is not currently charged with a crime.
One of the claims in the document alleges that during Esquith’s time as a counselor at a Jewish community center in the 1970s, Esquith touched the genitals of two boys and a girl, according to the document.
As an LA Unified teacher, the document alleges Esquith repeatedly used inappropriate sexual innuendo, as well as overt sexual or harassing language with students.
“With a show of hands, how many of you have started your period?” the document claims he asked female students.
It also says that on numerous occasions he has become physically abusive with students, allegedly slamming one student against a wall.
The document further claims that Esquith sent a number of inappropriate emails to former students on a district computer.
“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.
His attorneys have hit back at the claims, saying they are “discredited and baseless,” according to the LA Times.
Esquith taught English to many low-income and minority students in LA, and he gained international recognition with several best-selling books on his teaching philosophy. He was one of the district’s most popular teachers.
The lawsuit he filed in October against the LAUSD had some equally shocking allegations, and he has said that he aims to represent other teachers who he says were put in a similar situation.
He claims that the school conducts systematic “witch hunts” against teachers it wants to force out. The district puts these teachers in “jails” indefinitely while they’re under investigation, according to the complaint.
He alleges that the jails are a “criminal scheme” to “cut costs at students’ expense”
Additionally, in order to corroborate the claims LAUSD dredged up against Esquith, investigators surprised students at their homes looking for negative statements about him, according to the lawsuit.
Some of these students claimed that investigators harassed and intimidated them, and they have retained their own lawyers, according to the lawsuit.
In addition to the harassment of students specific to Esquith’s class, the lawsuit alleges that there is a pattern of terrorizing students of teachers the LAUSD is targeting.
Investigators provide loaded questions to students in the form of a questionnaire, according to the lawsuit. These types of questions include: “What creepy things did teacher X do? Has teacher X ever looked at you funny? Explain why teacher X may be racist?”
The suit claims the school district has deprived 2,000 teachers of $500,000 in benefits by either firing them or forcing them out, and it’s seeking a total of $1 billion in damages.
Business Insider reached out to attorneys for Rafe Esquith and the LAUSD and will update this post if we hear back.
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