LOS ANGELES (CN) - An educator cleared of charges that he had inappropriately touched a student was consigned to "teacher's jail" for three years, forcing him into early retirement, he claims in court.
Steven J. Lang sued the Los Angeles Unified School District in Superior Court this week, seeking punitive damages and costs for civil rights violations.
On June 6, 2001, Lang claims, an 18 year old student at Crenshaw High School came forward and alleged that the teacher had touched her and made inappropriate comments.
But the girl later told police officers that she did not believe that Lang had "acted in a sexual manner" and said it was not her intention to file a police report.
According to Lang, investigations by the school and the school district cleared him of any wrongdoing, even though the girl's friend came forward and made similar claims. City prosecutors declined to pursue the case, he says.
The Nov. 10 lawsuit says the remainder of his students and a teacher who had observed Lang on June 6 said that nothing untoward had happened, and that he was a "'good teacher.'" Over 37 years teaching, Lang claims there were never any other allegations made against him.
Despite those findings, Lang says that he was forced to drive 30 miles every day to "teacher's jail" an administrative office in Van Nuys, and then transferred to a similar office downtown L.A.
He says he was left in teachers jail for three years, from June 2011 to February 2012. When officials refused to return him to the classroom, he says he decided to retire.
But when he filed his application, the charges of misconduct resurfaced and the district tried to dismiss him and strip him of his teaching credentials, according to the 13-page lawsuit.
Though the district later dropped the investigation, Lang says that the district "created a stressful, unhealthy, and unsettling atmosphere that forced him to prematurely retire."
He seeks punitive damages and costs and is represented by Sanford M. Passman of Los Angeles.
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