District investigates teacher for allegedly using a derogatory term

District investigates teacher for allegedly using a derogatory term
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — In a bizarre case of alleged name calling, a school board member of the Vineland School District claims that a teacher at Vineland School called her a derogatory term.

According to an investigative report and conclusion obtained by Eyewitness News, Francisca Hernandez was board president in March 2012 when the alleged incident happened.

Hernandez told an investigator she was volunteering in the cafeteria at Sunset School when she answered the phone at around 1:55 p.m. The unidentified voice asked for "Mrs. Helen," the cook at the school. Hernandez told the caller the cook had left.

The caller then said "OK, puta (whore)" and hung up. Hernandez told the investigator she recognized the voice as that of teacher Roberto Euresti.

Eyewitness News asked Euresti if he ever used that term specifically on Hernandez.

'No, I did not call her a derogatory term," said Euresti, who is also the president of the Vineland Teachers Association.

Hernandez filed a complaint with the district. According to Grant Herndon of Schools Legal Services, schools are mandated to have complaint resolution policies.

"In this particular case, it did involve some high-profile people," said Vineland School District Superintendent Danny Whetton.

Whetton said the complaint was investigated by a third party so as to dispel any appearance of bias toward Hernandez or Euresti.

The 18-year veteran teacher was placed on paid administrative leave for 14 days while the matter was investigated. A substitute teacher had to be hired to take his place at additional cost to the district, he said.

Euresti feels his students were the ones who paid the price as they were nearing state exams and he was preparing them for that.

Numerous people were interviewed during the investigation. Hernandez insisted the caller was Euresti and that "he should be gone."

But at least one witness vouched for Euresti, claiming he could not have called her at that time.

The report concluded by finding that Euresti had a class of 19 children, as well as an administrator, in his classroom at the time of the alleged call to the Sunset cafeteria.

"Moreover, the risk attendant with using inappropriate language in front of 19 7 year olds and an administrator makes it highly unlikely that Euresti made the call," states the report submitted by Christopher W. Hine of Schools Legal Services.

"It is a witch hunt, it's that board member's witch hunt to try to get me out," said Euresti.

Euresti said he wants to clear his name, and the report's conclusion does that.

Hernandez declined to speak with Eyewitness News about the incident. When asked if she was considering appealing the report's conclusion, Hernandez said she had not yet made up her mind.