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La Jolla High School physics teacher Martin Teachworth’s classroom behavior made female students uncomfortable for years, and Loxie Gant brought what had long been an open secret at the school into the light of day.
Gant, now 32, had complained as a senior at La Jolla High School in the 2002-03 school year, telling the principal and an investigator that Teachworth groped her butt in the classroom.
Ten years later, when Gant heard students were still complaining about touching by Teachworth, she wrote a teacher at the school, “(Teachworth) is still allowed to be behind closed doors with students on a daily basis?”
Teachworth, who retired earlier this year, denies ever grabbing Gant, and claims the school district’s investigation that year, and another investigation of another student’s complaint about neck rubs in 2016, found no wrongdoing by him. Teachworth said he never engaged in improper conduct with any student during his 38 years of teaching.
An investigation by Voice of San Diego found some high school students, like Gant, voiced their concerns about unwanted touching by Teachworth to the school principal, and came away frustrated more wasn’t done to protect them.
Teachworth was placed on paid leave for a week in 2016, but otherwise kept teaching amid the string of complaints, which spanned at least 13 years.
In 2015, Gant reached out to Voice of San Diego to share her experience and ongoing concerns. Feeling empowered by the recent #MeToo movement this year, more former students came forward to publicly share their stories of Teachworth tickling them, squeezing their hips and meowing in their ear, among other things.
San Diego Unified officials said no records of the complaints lodged with the principal at the time by Gant and two other women exist.
The women’s accounts raise important questions about how seriously school administrators take student reports of sexual harassment by employees, and reveal gaps in the system.
None of these stories or issues would have seen the light of day without Gant.
This is part of our Voice of the Year package, profiling the people who drove the biggest conversations in San Diego in 2017.