By Joe Nelson | jnelson@scng.com and Scott Schwebke | sschwebke@scng.com | San Bernardino Sun
Published: October 17, 2018 at 1:58 pm | Updated: October 17, 2018 at 9:01 pm

A state agency that enforces professional standards for California educators is investigating Redlands Unified School District for a series of sexual abuse cases that has resulted in more than $21.7 million in legal settlements, according to an attorney representing several victims.

The probe by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing was triggered by the Southern California News Group’s yearlong investigation into whether Redlands Unified administrators covered up sexual misconduct by several teachers, attorney Morgan Stewart said.

The commission, an independent agency under the executive branch of state government, reached out to Stewart on Sept. 6 requesting information. The attorney said he provided the commission with documents and is cooperating in the investigation.

Stewart disclosed the state probe in letters he wrote to the commission, the state Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Education and the Riverside Police Department requesting an investigation into the Riverside Unified School District, where a technology aide at has been charged with eight felony counts of molesting four elementary school girls.

“As you may know, I am presently assisting your department in the investigation of administrators in Redlands Unified School District who violated the law,” Stewart said in a Sept. 20 letter to the commission, which was included as an exhibit in his motion filed Friday, Oct. 12, in Riverside Superior Court in connection with a civil case against aide Fernando Figueroa and Riverside Unified.

“We see vast similarities with Riverside Unified School District and its administrators here given what we have discovered,” Stewart wrote.

Redlands Unified spokeswoman MaryRone Shell said in an email the district was unaware the commission was investigating. “To our knowledge, we have not received inquiry or notice,” she said.

In Riverside, Stewart is representing three girls — current and former students at Liberty Elementary School — who allege they were molested by Figueroa, 25, of Riverside. The aide, who is on unpaid leave from the school district, was ordered to stand trial in August 2017 on charges he molested four girls from February 2016 through February 2017. He is being held on $4 million bail at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.

To read expanded article, click here.