More than a month has passed since Santa Clara Councilman Dominic Caserta resigned from public office and withdrew from the race for county supervisor amid claims that he sexually harassed students and campaign staffers.
His former council colleagues, who tried unsuccessfully to appoint a replacement, will keep his seat vacant until the next election. Santa Clara High, where Caserta taught civics for 20 years, has placed him on paid leave pending an investigation. Some sources say he’s hunkered down in Hollister, although there have reportedly been a few Caserta sightings around town in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, police and prosecutors are trying to determine whether any of the alleged harassment by Caserta rose to the level of a crime. According to Santa Clara police Capt. Wahid Kazem, the number of reports filed against the embattled high school teacher reached 15 by the end of May.
Granted, some seem to have been merely informational reports about Caserta being overbearing or creepy. And one calls out Santa Clara High Principal Gregory Shelby for knowing about Caserta’s harassment and doing nothing to stop it. But a couple of the police summaries provided to Fly look like they might result in criminal charges.
On May 10, someone reported an incident from way back in 1992, when Caserta allegedly exposed his genitals to an undisclosed underage victim. It’s unclear whether Caserta was 17 or 18 at the time because the exact month of the incident isn’t listed. In the summary sent to Fly, police categorized the case as “disorderly conduct.” Another case that stands out as a potential misdemeanor at least is one classified as an ongoing “sexual offense” spanning from September of 2017 through March of this year.
Fly’s been trying to obtain more info about Caserta’s conduct at work, but the Santa Clara Unified School District—by way of its Title IX coordinator Andrew Lucia and Superintendent Stan Rose—is taking forever to respond to a simple records request.
Once again Stanley Rose and Andrew Lucia exhibit profiles of cowardice as they refuse to release even simple records requests! These two scoundrels frame the issue with Casserta as merely a communications issue. If only we improve opportunities for students to report sexual harassment, we all will be fine. Unfortunately, due to the toxic nature of the SCUSD administration and School Board, a full independent investigation of sexual harassment, bullying, intimidation, and racism within SCUSD is required.
The investigation might even uncover the SCUSD ICE operation where police officer Brian combs over student records to identify possible students who might attend SCUSD and live outside of the District. When Brian find potential candidates, usually students of color, he confronts and intimidates the parents to remove their student from the school without any due process. I can remember that Brian would maintain a tally above his desk where he would proudly keep record of of his successful family ejections from SCUSD! All of this with the knowledge and blessing of the SCUSD administration and School Board.
There would be a lot more to learn from an in depth independent investigation and financial audit of SCUSD. I would love to see it actually happen. No more milquetoast hiding under the desk and failing to release information let alone act on behalf of the children and their families. Let’s create a totally open, transparent, and honest SCUSD school system!
1992 are you kidding me? It is really getting sickening that it takes almost 20 years plus to come forward and expose something as traumatic and then you have the “me too,” hangers-on, these are really sorry times. As for Mr. Conrad, you surmise he’s guilty because someone says so. Let’s give it a proportionate length of time to investigate and see if there is any merit to the allegations. I don’t doubt for a minute the parties responsible need to be pretty darn sure before they start throwing things out there which is pretty much where it lands right now.
Why is it a bad thing if SCUSD weeds out students not living within the district’s boundaries? Isn’t this SOP of other districts?
I don’t think the SCUSD is ever going to reform itself. It doesn’t help that the 49ers hold influence over the board.
SCUSD has a unique funding situation that is under local control. Local Tax dollars go to fund the schools so it does make sense to ensure that students whose parents or guardians live in the District attend the schools. The problem is with process:
-Do we want to let police pore over private student school records?
-It is not ok for the police to visit the residences of potential candidates not living in the district and then intimidate and bully them out of the district
-There needs to be a clearly defined process for verifying residency of students and it should be applied to all students. If there is an issue, there should be a due process to contest possible mis-identification. The process should be public and clearly communicated to the community.
-It is not ok for the police to maintain an office in the district office and then to celebrate their tallies of student and family district that they pushed out through bullying and intimidation.
I don’t really understand your criticism. You say that it would make sense to ensure that students don’t commit residency fraud, but everything else you say seems to suggest that you don’t think residency fraud should be investigated. In the course of investigating residency fraud, would it not be appropriate for an official to visit a student’s listed residence to observe whether or not they actually live there?
The bigger picture is why Santa Clara Unified does not get its funding from the state like most other school districts? My complaint is primarily about the process that is used to identify students who may not live within the boundaries of Santa Clara. The the task out should not be given to a police officer. Unless there is a crime committed on school premises, police should not engage in school business. Also giving police access to sensitive student records has the downside that the police might take other illegal literites with the information. The process is not clearly defined and communicated. Police can target children of color if they want and then visit their homes to intimidate them out of the school district. If SCUSD is going to use the residency requirement, they should apply it equally to all children to identify all potential residency issues. There should also be a due process for those who are identified. They should have the opportunity to make their case to the administration or the Board and not a police officer standing on their doorstep. And notching the number of families on a board over your desk is very inappropriate and racist.
Unless you have actual evidence that students of color are not only being investigated to a greater extent than white students, but are being targeted to a greater extent than the investigative evidence warrants (I’m not sure what the school/officer looks at – maybe the middle school they previously attended), then you should be careful about making accusations of racism. Flippant accusations of racism damage the credibility of others fighting legitimate racism. How do you know that keeping a tally of students removed from the district is racist, unless you can look into that officer’s heart and see that he takes pleasure in the fact that some of those students are persons of color?
My understanding is that SCUSD is a “basic aid” district which means they are locally funded. This will happen if there is a strong business tax base. Palo Alto to my knowledge is also a BA district. Both PA and SC have populations that treble during the day b/c of business activity. It’s a situation that many cities would dream of. Unfortunately, despite this abundance, SC seems to underachieve. I don’t think their city council or school board serves the community well. Why is that?
SCUSD has a very toxic culture run by Me First, Family First. and Friends First Wannabees who really have no talent except to get and maintain the hiring of talentless but loyal gumbas who are expert at the political frame and keepi their positions of power through bullying, intimidation, lying, cheating, and generally skullduggery. Whatever it takes.
And the voters of SCUSD put up with all of it. That is the question. Why does the community support such ugliness and lack of talent? Even as some of the teachers are trying to have sex with their children aided and abetted by the school and district administration.
Having worked in the toxic and conniving culture of SCUSD, anyone can see how a predator like Caserta could sexually harass with impunity and protection for years. Even the effete and cowardly SCUSD administration made a half-hearted attempt to discipline Caserta in the past for inappropriate sexual comments to girls. So there is evidence of his sexually harassing proclivities even within the massively toxic SCUSD system..
I must say that I stand with the many courageous children of SCUSD who have called out Caserta on his sexual predation in poignant and credible testimony. These are very courageous acts given the potential that these students will face real bullying and intimidation by both the school and district administrations. Their testimony also represents the tip of a very ugly iceberg in SCUSD,
In focus group meetings in school districts across the country I have heard similar credible stories of sexual harassment, intimidation, and racism. The children throughout the country fear for their safety. The CDC recently reported that 10% of girls have been sexually assaulted in American schools and 20% of all students have experienced bullying and intimidation. Students in Campbell High School District conducted a survey that exposes these issues only to be denigrated and insulted by Board member Matthew Dean. In Petaluma, District administration turns the mike off for a student who wanted to talk about the very real problem of sexual harassment within her school.
It is time to pull our heads out of the sand and demand an independent investigation and financial audit of SCUSD. It is not acceptable for Board members and administration to claim that they can be absolved of culpability because they were not aware of these conditions when the children were actually handing them the information on a silver platter! Minimally, we should get immediate apologies from thee administration and the School Board. But don’t hold your breath. We are now on to the next best thing – Measure A. This sexual harassment, intimidation, and racism kerfluffle will all blow over and the toxic culture will continue to thrive in a Me First, Family First, and Friends First world of SCUSD!
Santa Clara Police and School District both admit to “misplacing” the written reports, so this serial sexual predator gets to walk away free? Sorry for his multiple victims. Shameful that they were lost in the bureaucratic system of protectionism. https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/08/15/no-charges-filed-in-dominic-caserta-sexual-harassment-scandal/