Over at the OC Weekly, Gustavo Arellano got his hands on the deposition tapes for the civil trial of Melissa Nicole Lindgren. She was the young Nicholas Jr. High teacher who is doing 4 years in state prison for lewd acts against three Fullerton students.
Despite numerous warning signs, the abuse occurred under the school administrators noses for several years before she was finally arrested in 2014.
Mr. Arellano’s article goes into great detail, but here is the most important question:
Who is responsible for leaving this predator in the classroom after numerous warning signs?
Let’s take a look at the suspects:
The Fullerton Police Department: Received an anonymous letter alleging inappropriate activity with students. Detectives claim they investigated the issues, but they ultimately cleared the teacher. According to one inside source, the FPD’s failed investigation actually hampered the school district’s ability to take action.
Matthew Barnett, Nicholas principal: Noted many warning signs, but ultimately “couldn’t put his finger” on Lindgren’s indiscretions until she was arrested. He also forgot to interview Lindgren about the accusations in the anonymous letter. Barnett has since been promoted to “Director of Educational Services” at the Fullerton School District.
The Fullerton School Board: Fairly useless in disciplinary matters. Most of the school board is content to take cover behind state laws that prevent them from resolving personnel issues. The one action the board did take responsibility for: paying a $3.25 million settlement to Lindgren’s victims.
The teachers’ union: School administrators will tell you that their investigatory and disciplinary powers are extremely limited by special state laws that protect deviant teachers like Lindgren. These laws are put into place by elected officials at the behest of the powerful California Teachers Association. These protections clearly hindered the district’s ability to investigate and terminate a child predator in their midst.
So back to the question. Who is responsible for allowing this teacher to run wild?
Take your pick. But wherever blame is cast, there is one certainty that nobody will admit: The Fullerton School District can’t offer any assurance of your child’s safety. And everyone involved seems to be OK with that.