By Hilary Costa
East County Times
Posted: 06/05/2009 02:46:02 PM PDT
Updated: 06/05/2009 05:46:43 PM PDT
An Antioch music teacher suspected of downloading child pornography on his classroom computer has resigned from the school district the same week an independent investigation of the district's handling of the case recommended changes in how it deals with similar incidents in the future.
The school board accepted the resignation of former Carmen Dragon Elementary School teacher James Carlile, 52, on Wednesday. The Antioch Unified School District will notify California's Commission on Teacher Credentialing, as required when a teacher resigns at the threat of disciplinary action.
Carlile was arrested in February after the school district reported to police suspicions that he viewed child pornography at work. But the district's report was made Feb. 3, nearly three weeks after school officials seized his terminal and placed him on paid administrative leave while it explored the matter.
In May, the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office declined to prosecute Carlile, citing the delay in notifying police and lack of clear evidence of child pornography. Police records indicate additional evidence may have been destroyed after Carlile was placed on leave.
On Thursday night, government and education attorney Lou Lozano presented his findings that the school district's handling of the case was "reasonable and appropriate" but suggesting a number of things that could have been done differently and should be adopted for future crisis management.
"There were many ways things that could have been improved," Lozano told the packed board room.
Lozano said he interviewed district personnel, attorneys, the deputy district attorney who declined to prosecute Carlile, and Antioch police Lt. Leonard Orman in the course of the investigation.
In his 12-page report, he underscores that district personnel made good-faith decisions throughout the investigation — but that further training in areas of crisis management and pedophilia recognition would have been beneficial.
Lozano said the district did not violate California mandated reporter laws concerning child abuse and exploitation, because no abuse took place in this case.
Although the school district has been widely criticized for waiting to report its suspicions to police, the report shows that district human resources personnel were advised by legal counsel and in a casual conversation with an Antioch student resource police officer that a police report was not necessary.
However, Lozano said, the question of whether to call police even arising should be a signal to do it.
"Don't hesitate," he said Thursday.
Other recommendations from the report include:
Training school supervisors on recognizing signs of pedophilia or sexual problems.
Forming a crisis-management team to deal with future incidents and communicate with the public.
Improve the working relationship between the school district and other public agencies, including police.
Enforce technology use policies and consider random Internet use monitoring.
In accepting the report, school board President Walter Ruehlig said the district is hoping to learn from it and heal from the situation.
"This is not a hanging jury," Ruehlig said. "We're looking for take-aways."
Copies of the report are available at the school district office, 510 G St.
Reach Hilary Costa at 925-779-7166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the report at ContraCostaTimes.com. Copies are available the Antioch school district office, 510 G St.