Restraining Order Filed By Berkeley High Student
Friday, September 17, 2010
Category: News > City > Local Schools
A temporary restraining order was issued Sept. 2 against an academic counselor at Berkeley High School after he was accused of sexually harassing a student.
In April, a female student accused counselor Anthony Smith of sexual harassment in a report to the Berkeley Unified School District, according to district documents. After a district evaluation, administrators chose not to remove the counselor from his position. The student's attorney, Stephen Rosenbaum, then applied for a temporary restraining order with the Alameda County Superior Court Aug. 31 - before the school year began - which keeps Smith 100 yards from the student and her home at all times.
Allegations against Smith include hugging the student while placing his face on her chest and his hands on her waist, constantly talking about her hair, caressing her inner thigh, placing his nose on her neck and telling her she smelled good and spanking her as she left his office, according to a July letter from Cliff Wong, the district's interim director of personnel services, to the student in response to her report filed with the district.
The district's evaluation concluded that there were no witnesses to the incidents of harassment and that Smith denied the allegations, but also determined that Smith "engaged in inappropriate and unprofessional behavior contrary to District policy." Smith returned to his usual position at the beginning of the school year two weeks ago.
In another letter from Delia Ruiz, the district's assistant superintendent of human resources, she said the district "took into consideration the size of the high school" and the "ability to minimize contact" between the student and Smith in deciding to retain him at the high school.
"We believe that with these precautions, there is little or no chance that any additional offensive contact between the two will occur," Ruiz stated in the letter.
Rosenbaum appealed to the district, asking that Smith be removed from any position that puts him in contact with students - an appeal that was denied by district Superintendent Bill Huyett as of Sept. 8.
A court hearing to determine whether the temporary restraining order is justified and should be extended is scheduled for Sept. 21.
Soumya Karlamangla is the lead local schools reporter. Contact her at [email protected]
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