2012-03-22 / Front Page

LAPD investigating alleged sexual misconduct by NPHS teacher

Educator has been on administrative leave since February
By Kyle Jorrey and Anna Bitong

A Newbury Park High School teacher is under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department for alleged inappropriate sexual contact with a male student from the school, CVUSD Superintendent Jeff Baarstad told the Acorn last week.

The incident between the student and the teacher—whose name has not been released by the school district or the police—is believed to have occurred off campus and outside of Ventura County, Baarstad said.

A Newbury Park High student who spoke to the Acorn under the condition of anonymity said the accused teacher is Michael Ollins, a theater instructor listed as a faculty member in the English department.

Principal Athol Wong declined comment while the alleged incident is under investigation.

Officials at NPHS received a complaint about the possible sexual misconduct about a month ago, according to the superintendent. At that time, the case was turned over to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, which determined that the incident happened outside its jurisdiction and turned the case over to LAPD’s Topanga division, which serves Canoga Park, West Hills, Winnetka and Woodland Hills.

Detective Fernando Avila, who is leading the investigation, said it’s too early to say if charges will be filed. The determination will be made in two to three weeks, he said.

“The case is moving slowly. There is a lot to do on it,” Avila said.

Baarstad said the teacher in question has been on administrative leave since the incident was reported at the high school. A call went out to NPHS parents last Thursday informing them of the ongoing investigation, he said.

Asked if that was standard procedure, Barstaad said, “There is no standard procedure in a case like this.”

“There is so much hysteria over the stuff that happened in Los Angeles (Unified), we believe parents should get information from us that is accurate and not from rumors or hearsay,” he said, referring to the recent arrest of two teachers at Miramonte Elementary School for lewd acts against students.

“We want to provide them with as much information we can give without compromising the confidentiality of the employee and interfering with a police investigation.”

Baarstad said the school district had begun its own investigation into the incident but was told by LAPD to cease its efforts.

Baarstad said the student in question posted information about the alleged incident on his Facebook page last week, causing students at the school to begin asking questions. The student is believed to have moved out of the area, he said.

Teachers have declined to discuss the matter with students, said the NPHS student who spoke to the Acorn.

“(The school) should be more open about what happened. They need to educate students and say, if anything happens, you need to come forward,” the student said. “It would be helpful if counselors came to each classroom and talked to us about it.

“This doesn’t make me lose trust in teachers,” the student added. “I trust and respect the teachers that I know.”

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