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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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...