Berkeley High counselor given seven-day suspension

A BHS counselor has been issued with a seven-day suspension

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) has issued Berkeley High School counselor Anthony Smith with a seven-day suspension notice, after a former student took a sexual harassment complaint to the Commission last year.

Former BHS student “Lilah R.” (a fictitious name) filed a complaint with CCTC on December 16, 2011 2010 against Smith for engaging in sexual misconduct during the 2009-10 school year. The Berkeley school board voted earlier this year to approve a settlement in the student’s separate federal sexual harassment lawsuit. The settlement included compensation of  $57,500 and imposed conditions on Smith when he carries out his counseling duties.

BUSD spokesperson Mark Coplan said the district could not comment on a personnel issue that involved disciplinary action, but that Berkeley High administration and BUSD would follow whatever directive is imposed on them. “We will do as directed by the authoritative body,” he said.

CCTC issued the notice on May 4. Coplan could not confirm when Smith would begin the suspension.

Lilah, who received the CCTC notice in the mail on May 5, commented in a statement: “I’m glad the commission took action against Mr. Smith. But I’m concerned because Berkeley hasn’t told us yet whether he has even signed the statement agreeing to abide by the terms of our settlement.” Smith is required to keep his office door open and blinds up, except under certain limited circumstances, and is barred from removing students from class without an administrator’s permission.

The settlement also requires BUSD to update its Student Handbook to include more specific information for students who wish to report sexual harassment. An advisory committee of parents and district staff has begun meeting to clarify Berkeley’s sexual harassment policy and procedural
timelines. The committee is also planning Fall 2012 training workshops for students, parents and staff.

Berkeley School district settles sexual harassment case [01.12.12]
Berkeley High harassment case close to settling [12.08.11]
Berkeley High harassment case heading to settlement [07.21.11]
BHS sexual harassment case taken to federal court [04.22.11]
Government to assess Berkeley High harassment case [12.07.10]
BHS harassment case settles, leaves open questions [10.29.10]
BUSD decision appealed in BHS harassment case [09.21.10]
Restraining order served on Berkeley High counselor [09.16.10]

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  • The Sharkey

    Oh my God, just fire this creep already.

  • bgal4

    It was a case involving one of my children which resulted in the district developing the Parent/ Student Handbook and revising the sexual harassment policy.The CCTC review in our case was not legitimate, after advising me on the process and ensuring we would be included in the review, the unit lost the file. BUSD Supt at least wrote a reprimand for the teacher’s file, but the local union president (now on the county board of education) actually had the nerve to send me a letter outraged I filed a complaint with the CCTC. The media scrutiny made it difficult for the CCTC to avoid sanctioning, but really one week is hardly anything, is Smith paid for the week off work ?

  • Goodkind

    At the very least, the Berkeley High community deserves to know the answer to Lilah’s question, RE: “Berkeley hasn’t told us yet whether he has even signed the statement agreeing to abide by the terms of our settlement.” Oh for heaven’s sake, take him out of that office and make him sit out at the counter where he will have no privacy. That’s the only way anyone can be sure of safety, short of termination which doesn’t seem likely. And thank you Mr. Sharkey, but hell might freeze over first.

  • Heather_W_62

    One WEEK??? One stinkin’ week? Way to go BUSD, you sure showed us where your priorities lie… certainly not with the safety and security of your students. Unbelievable.

  • SJM

    What am I missing? How come BUSD can’t fire a counselor under these circumstances? It seems so obvious that he has to go!

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    I want a job i can’t be fired from!

  • Bruce Love

    One WEEK??? One stinkin’ week?

    It adds to my impression that he has been railroaded.

    Way to go BUSD, you sure showed us where your priorities lie…
    certainly not with the safety and security of your students.

    Perhaps there’s just not really all that much there against him, as three juridical institutions have now seemed to indicate. Not “nothing” but not that much, either.

  • Anon

    yeah i am sure they settled out of court because the case against him was so weak, lol!

  • Michael Amado

    oh, “bruce,” get off it. can you actually name 3 “juridical institutions” that made rulings on this matter?

  • Bruce Love

    oh, “bruce,” get off it. can you actually name 3 “juridical institutions” that made rulings on this matter?

    1. The district.
    2. The federal courts.
    3. CCTC.

  • The Sharkey

    Did the federal courts make a ruling? The last reporting I read on the matter suggested that the issue was settled out of court, which would mean that the federal court did not, in fact, make a ruling on the case.

  • Bruce Love

    The settlement was, to my understanding, and as is usual in situations like this, approved by the court. Once a matter is brought before the court, a settlement is the court’s to sanctify for obvious reasons.

    That would mean that the court made no findings of fact, etc….. but that looking at the matter before it the court felt it OK to let it go. If the court had more serious concerns, it could have rejected the (I’d say: modest-sum, modest-conditions) settlement.

  • MFox327
  • Heather_W_62

    Gosh I’m glad Disqus emailed me Bruce Love’s retort to my comment, so I can see how low he can really go. As noted below, the issue was settled out of court… there was little question that Lilah’s allegations were ‘credible’, but it didn’t make it to court. I submit that Lilah R. and her family settled hoping that BUSD would make the right decision and to keep Lilah R. from having to go through arduous and brutal court proceedings. Let me restate: BUSD paid the $$, but the perpetrator should have paid the price with his job. A seven day suspension isn’t even a slap on the wrist, it’s a vacation for a job well done.

  • michael amado

    right–and “the district” and CCTC are *not* juridical institutions. as to CCTC, it *did* issue a ruling of sorts.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan


  • Bruce Love

    “the district” and CCTC are *not* juridical institutions.

    In their disciplinary capacities, they are. That’s why, for example, state law establishes their jurisdictions, rights of representation, requirements of evidence gathering, appeals procedures, procedures for protecting the right to due process, etc.

  • MFox327

    Check out the link. It’s Daily Show piece about how Missouri passed a law that protects gun owners from being fired.

  • Goodkind

     Let’s all practice simply not responding to “Bruce Love.” (Thomas Lord?) Practice non-engagement. Whaddya say?