Tuesday, May 11, 2010
In the southern Los Angeles community of Lynwood, school board officials are still trying to decide if they should hire Edward Velasquez, the current superintendent in the nearby Montebello Unified School District. Board members recognize Velasquez’s experience but many are feeling apprehensive. Even normally complacent high school students have shown up at school board meetings to voice their concerns. Why? Edward Velasquez is currently the target of an explicit lawsuit filed against the Montebello Unified School District in March by former employee Irving Bartikofsky. The suit claims that Bartikofsky was the victim of employment discrimination, sexual battery, retaliation, wrongful termination and hostile work environment. Many folks in Lynwood are unsure if they want to be associated with Velasquez and a lawsuit that has the potential to get really ugly.
According to the lawsuit, working at the Montebello Unified School District as a former administrator in the district’s special education department was a nightmare for Irving Bartikofsky. Bartikofsky claims that Velasquez stuck a wet finger in his ear and grabbed his genitals. Reportedly, Velasquez made numerous sexual remarks to Bartikofsky and told him he wanted to kiss him. Bartikofsky formally filed a complaint with the school board who dismissed his allegations and denied him a claim for damages in 2009. To make things worse, the lawsuit alleges that Irving Bartikofsky’s job was eliminated after he filed the complaint and was replaced by Velasquez’s friend and divorce attorney. Shortly after being fired, Bartikofsky was sent back to working in the classroom. Finally, Bartikofsky’s complaint was approved by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing in a letter from June 2009 which stated he had the right to sue the school district. Filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last month, the lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in damages.
Meanwhile, the members of the Lynwood school board are expected to make a decision on whether or not they will hire Edward Velasquez as Superintendent in the next few days.