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The Sweetwater Union High School District is investigating sexual assault allegations against Kevin Beiser, a district math teacher who is also an elected trustee at the San Diego Unified School District.
Four men came forward in March to accuse Beiser of sexual harassment and assault. One of those men filed a civil lawsuit against him.
Since then, Beiser has not returned to the classroom. He took leave immediately after the allegations were made and never gave any indication to the district when he planned to return as the school year continued, Sweetwater spokesman Manny Rubio said in a series of responses throughout the year.
He returned to his position on San Diego Unified’s board a month after the allegations but has said little since then and has not responded to media questions except to reiterate his initial declaration of innocence.
Beiser’s employer is now looking into the allegations against him. The district hired an outside firm to investigate the allegations; the firm started interviewing the accusers last week.
Dan Gilleon, an attorney representing one of the accusers, identified as John Doe in the suit, said his client is cooperating with investigators. Voice of San Diego interviewed Doe before he filed his lawsuit and agreed to protect his anonymity because he is an alleged victim of sexual harassment and assault.
“(My client) came forward with his humiliating story knowing he would face the fiercest personal attacks Mr. Beiser and his supporters could muster because he genuinely cares about the wellbeing of others in the community,” Gilleon wrote in a statement. “He is more than willing to share his story with the investigator hired by the district.”
Rubio said he could not confirm or deny the investigation because the district cannot discuss personnel matters.
Beiser is a math teacher at Castle Park Middle School. None of the accusations against Beiser involves inappropriate behavior with students or minors. The four men who say he harassed or assaulted him were all active in Democratic politics – three of them have run for office themselves – and came in contact with Beiser through campaigns, party functions or related social circles.
One of the accusers, Patrick Macfarland, is a substitute teacher at the Sweetwater Union High School District. He is also cooperating with investigators and submitted to a two-hour interview on Friday.
“I’m happy to cooperate with the investigation,” Macfarland said in a written statement. “Although it is painful to keep reliving the abuse that Mr. Beiser inflicted on myself and my friends, I will share my story as many times as it takes for justice to be served. Actions have consequences and I applaud the Sweetwater Union High School District for taking these accusations seriously and launching an investigation to find out if these abusive behaviors on the campaign trail were reinforced in the workplace. I suggest that San Diego Unified School District do the same.”
Beiser did not respond to a request for comment.
John Lee Evans, a San Diego Unified trustee who spearheaded the school board’s passage of a resolution calling on Beiser to resign, said he is not aware of any discussion of San Diego Unified launching its own investigation.
“Investigation of a teacher’s behavior may be the appropriate thing for Sweetwater District to do in this situation,” Evans wrote in an email. “But Mr. Beiser is not an employee of the board or the district in the traditional sense, so it is not appropriate for us to mount an investigation. He was placed there by the voters and only the voters can remove him.”
Evans said Beiser has a legal right to continue serving on the board but reiterated that he should resign.
“As frustrating it may be, the board must continue its normal business with Mr. Beiser present,” he wrote. “However, this must not be misinterpreted as support. The board has not rescinded its call for Mr. Beiser to resign. Mr. Beiser has failed to take the only honorable action in this situation, which would be to resign.”