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Allegations of Sexual Misconduct at ERHS Dominate LAUSD-Moderated Forum (VIDEO)

Principal Salvador Velasco answers questions from Eagle Rock High School parents.

On the night of Wednesday, May 9, Principal Salvadaor Velasco answered a series of parents’ questions in a forum at the school library moderated by LAUSD District 4 Coordinator of Operations and School Safety Stephen Koffman. Annick Draghi, LAUSD director for secondary schools in District 4, presided over the forum.

As this short video shows, the Q&A session was contentious and frequently charged. Velasco was quizzed about his reasons for the firing in February of Steven Jovanelly, an ERHS alumnus who, by all accounts, was a widely respected junior varsity football and basketball coach as well as a substitute teacher. The issue caused about 75 students to walk out of their classes on Tuesday—and Velasco noted at the start of the forum that a second protest by a smaller number of students also occurred Wednesday.

At the heart of Jovanelly’s dismissal is his conflict with a PE teacher, Roman Cisneros. The latest twist in that clash occurred last week on May 2, when Jovanelly was briefly taken into custody by school police and cited for trespassing.

Velasco gave parents an account of what he believed to be the circumstances behind the conflict. But he faced persistent criticism about what several parents alleged was his blatant favortism toward Cisneros, which, the parents maintained, stood in sharp contrast to his alleged persecution of Jovanelly.

Many parents accused Cisneros of sexual misconduct with female students. Jovanelly’s mother, Ronda, told the meeting that Cisneros had verbally abused her in front of several students, including her own son, a ninth-grade student at the school.

Velasco pointed out that he had not received any formal complaints of sexual misconduct against Cisneros, who was not present at the forum. Although none of the parents challenged Velasco about the lack of complaints against the PE teacher, Ronda Jovanelly countered at one point during the forum that the principal had done nothing to investigate her written complaint to him about Cisnero’s allegedly abusive behavior toward her.

Many parents agreed that the reason why there were no complaints against the PE teacher was that his alleged victims were too intimidated to protest. "As soon as you can prove that, it will be my first responsibility to investigate," Velasco said, alluding to the accusations against Cisneros. "I encourage young ladies to report against Cisneros," Velasco said, pointing out that the PE teacher would be retiring in June. "We still have six weeks left."

R.Giovannelli May 12, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Dear Aetosians2012: This is coach's mother and I thought I'd let you know that I did not contact the Patch and start this mess. I was shocked when I got an email saying to look at the Patch.(I had never even heard of the Patch) The Patch can confirm that it wasn't my phone number that called Ajay (I can give him my numbers so he can compare). He can also tell you that when I read this article I emailed him to complain that the facts were skewed and defaming of character. I can imagine how confusing this is for students who weren't there and have a bunch of circulating rumors to contend with. You could also ask anyone who really knows me that doing something this illogical and one sided is just not my style. Also, I would have been concerned at protecting the rights of the individuals involved. No Jovanelly wanted something this crazy to happen. You know where I am so if I can help just let me know. Hope that helps! :)
Patrick Lee May 13, 2012 at 04:40 AM
Mr. Schraff: I'm the Regional Editor for the Northeast Los Angeles Patch sites. If you have an issue about Ajay's coverage or our editorial approach, I'm happy to discuss it with you. You can reach me at the email address Ajay gave, or we can chat on the phone, your call. E me and I'll send you my phone number.
Ajay Singh (Editor) May 13, 2012 at 08:23 AM
Just to clarify—and having heard Steven Jovanelly's mother speak at Wednesday's LAUSD-moderated meeting at ERHS—I am positive it was not she who contacted me.
Jan Freed May 13, 2012 at 03:04 PM
From the video, Mr. Velasco claims he could do nothing because no formal complaints about sexual misconduct were made. Ask him, step by step, how to make a formal complaint (he should supply the official forms) and make them! Then, report on any "consequences" to these complaints. Was there a follow through? Mr. Velasco is required to follow throug)h. Was the person who complained in any way the subject of retaliation? Harassment? Document all of this. Progress, or lack of it, could be followed in the Patch. If Mr. Velasco or the District "slow walks" this, following receipt of complains, can a law suit be filed? Any lawyers out there? From the sound of the discussion, Mr. Velasco is not going to budge. So, legal recourse is necessary. Sexual harassment or manipulation is completely unacceptable anywhere, especially in a school.. Mr. Cisneros deserves a fair hearing, but not a pass.. HIs involvement, or lack of it, should be determined.
Rob Schraff May 13, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Mr. Lee - Thank you for your response to my e-mail of earlier today. If you wish to publish both as a blog entry, that would be fine with me.
Parent Ramirez May 13, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Let’s face it, the last meeting (on Wed) was a joke! The person the district sent to listen to our complaints was completely biased toward Velasco. She even said as much when she talked about what a great guy he was and how he used to be her boss! We need someone to moderate a discussion who is going to be IMPARTIAL and really listen to (and investigate) our concerns. Does anyone know where we can we find someone impartial like that? More importantly, how do we motivate the district to use this person so that the whole process doesn’t stink of another district cover up where they close ranks and protect their own?
Parent Ramirez May 13, 2012 at 09:51 PM
We need someone high enough on the LAUSD food chain to be able to enact some real change, especially if some brave parents are willing to come forward to report an impropriety involving their children. There are only two people, in my mind, from whom we can expect real action: Our school board member Bennett Kayser and the Superintendent John Deasy. We need to forget about our local district representatives (Annick Draghi and her boss, Dale Vigil). They’ll be out of their jobs soon and don’t seem to have to the guts to do more than stall and placate us! If we’re really serious about keeping our kids safe and/or protecting our coach, we need to bombard Kaiser and Deasy with calls and emails. Who is willing to do this with me? This is the contact information for Kayser and Deasy off of the LAUSD website: Superintendent John Deasy (213) 241-7000 (couldn’t find his email address). Bennett Kayser (213) 241-5555 and email BoardDistrict5@lausd.net. Kayser’s Chief of Staff is Sarah Bradshaw sarah.bradshaw@lausd.net
Rene Diedrich May 13, 2012 at 10:08 PM
The tradition at LAUSD is to protect the perverts as we see with Berndt, Chapel aand Hernandez. I don't know ifbthe guy is a pervert , buy I do know teachers are put in the rubber room based on far less than whatni have read thus far. Clearlynthere was a conflict and the principal had no clue how to diffuse it. In fact , he has made matters worse by demonstrating favoritism amd taking a side. His discourse here betrays this. Its a shame that this nonsense will,possibly end a promising career and cast a pall over a school that should be celebrating its success. However, the passion of parents and integrity of the Patch ( which i note in every affiliate) is encouraging. We have to intercede now, and take LAUSD back fromthe bloated bureacracy and vulture philanthropists who divide and conquer. Teachers have very little power but parents are the force they need to reckon with. Coach J. Contact me for codes and information to protect yourself from ruin. I am an advocate for students and teachers. Our organization is advised by outstanding attorneys and no one is better prepared to help you survive this ordeal, we've been through it. Radaxis7@aol.com
Rene Diedrich May 13, 2012 at 10:10 PM
If you werntbthere LAusd would ride roughshod allmover everyone, keepmup the great work
Rene Diedrich May 13, 2012 at 10:18 PM
ERHS MOMS, those teachers are right!! Speaking up may get them fired or displaced. This district is almost fascist and so corrupt it will ruin livesnto protet the swarm of snakes in charge, UTLA is dirty too. These teachers are working in the most stressful conditions with bullies in charge. We dont have any clout but you do. Get together an speak out! Tuesday and Thursday. There are press conference and protests at OaUSd i will oost the details for you. Go there and be heard. You can alsonwrite CTC and the DA integriity unit about your concerns with LAUSD leadership. Please not we are demandingbthe recallmof Monica Garcia and its time ti vote for annew board. Choose wisely. Arne Duncan xouod not ignore open letters posted in Huffington Post. You or your kids can send them to tips@ huffingtonpost.com
Rene Diedrich May 13, 2012 at 10:23 PM
The union id corrupt. It will not help you. It has long been an enemy to change and progess. Its betrayal of the teachers who pay diues and make sacrafices is criminal. Please go outside the system. There are agencies that offer objective advocates. I suggest you get in touch with School Matters , Perdaily.com, and Karen Horwitz at stopteacherabuse.org for guidance on the right choice for you.mi will do some research and see what i can come up with too.
Rene Diedrich May 13, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Please contact Lenny@perdaily.com Email me for help filing the right complaints, identifying codes and getting some legal aid. Radaxis7@aol.com
Rene Diedrich May 13, 2012 at 10:31 PM
If you suspect these girls were violated it behooves you to report it to police in ER and CPS now. The failure to do so makes you complicit in any future crimes committed against children by this indivu
Rene Diedrich May 13, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Denying esculpatory evidence is a policy at LAUSD. Please be sure to keep a journal to document these issues. This matter may see a courtroom. If Coach J files a suit , he will need witnesses. If the criminal charges are viable, these alleged victims will want to implicate lausd because theyvenenabled so many of these situations and need to answer for it. However unless the accusations of abuse aare reported, they seem like ugly slander at best. The principal may be violating laws by NOT reporting the incidents. He is not in a position to cide which claims are credible or not. Henis a court mandated reporter . You guys have a really powerful story here. After Miramonte it was clear to me that administration protects certain teachers shamelessly and I know too well what happens tomteachers whomabide the madated duty to report abuse and corruption. Please, please, make this situation known and lets change lausd for the kids' sake.
Rene Diedrich May 13, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Asap, butbthis superintedent is not quite like his predecessors and lausd , if you can believe irs possible, is more corrupt and lawless than ever. Parents have been menaced by campus cops, threatened with deportation. Contact a good lawyer and file reports. Former city attorney Richard Knickerbocker has been very generous in his efforts tonadvocate for teachers, he's on wilshire in SM knicklaw@gmail.com
Rene Diedrich May 13, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Which police detained Coach J? Campus cops operate at the discretion of principals not the law.
Rene Diedrich May 13, 2012 at 10:48 PM
A church ready to support teachers , Susan.
Rene Diedrich May 13, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Dont expect LAUSD to send this person. Record all your interactions with them, they lie and cheat
Rene Diedrich May 13, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Kaiser and Deasy will not serve your interests. They serve their own and enable this kind of lunacy. You need an objective advocate. Someone from the state. Maybe or perhaps the DA unit for public integrity.(213) 974-6501
Rene Diedrich May 13, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Deasy is. Superintendent@lausd.net. Good luck getting a reply.
Patrick Lee May 14, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Hi: You can post your letter as a blog by clicking this link: http://eaglerock.patch.com/blog/apply ... Let me know if you have problems with that, and thanks again.
Rene Diedrich May 14, 2012 at 09:59 AM
Mom, you rock, thats some very solid rhetorical insight. And it nails the way lausd operates. They are so unethical and mendacious its clear they sshould not be trusted around children
Rene Diedrich May 14, 2012 at 10:06 AM
This is all very familiar. The spies, the fear, the certanty that the principal prevails no matter what. Deasy operates much the same way, as he and 50% of our administratirs are graduates of the Broad Academy. One my not know your school, but these situations are all very similar. You know your situation and school, but you have no clue what youre up against. Stop bickering amd stand up it. Www.perdaily..com Do your homework.
Chuck May 14, 2012 at 05:53 PM
I wish every ERHS teacher, administrator, the principal, student and parent would go watch the movie "Bully". Too much of that goes on and then its further hidden and protect by those in charge. Also address the problem of school over crowding, too many kids that should be going to other HS's are coming here to ERHS, I know there is money involved for the school, but it dilutes the learning of the kids that should be there, it's the end of the year and currently my son still complains that there are not enough chairs and desks in his math class!
Jesse May 18, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Jesse the V Mercelli Lies, lies, lies, lies.....My wife attended Lincoln H.S. when Cisneros was there, she remembers that Cisneros would ask the girls to call him "Papi Chulo". These men are acting like political figures of our southern border. We know what they have done to their country. Now these two fat sewer rats are doing this to our school.
James Johnson September 20, 2012 at 06:02 PM
2:54 Parent in " Do I Look Illegal" Shirt... so appropriate for a parent/teacher meeting, although it was funny!!!!
James Johnson September 20, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Rene, it was officer Glenn Cunday with the LASPD
Letty Maravilla January 02, 2013 at 12:02 AM
@ERMOM...careful of slanderous & defamatory comments towards any person in a public forum.
Letty Maravilla January 02, 2013 at 12:04 AM
Careful.
Letty Maravilla January 02, 2013 at 05:04 PM
Eagle Patch - ERMOM's comment posted at 3:43 p.m. on Tuesday, January 1, 2013 is to be removed within 24 hours or immediately. Otherwise, I will hold your newspaper & ERMOM responsible for any/all deroggatory, defamatory & slanderous comments including any unneccessary public scrunity my children endure resulting of ERMOM's reckless comments!

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