In the aftermath of the Miramonte Elementary sex abuse scandal, which has so far cost LA Unified roughly $170 million in settlements, was the creation of a special unit to handle all future sexual abuse allegations.
The Student Safety Investigative Team passed its one-year anniversary of active investigations on Jan. 7, and to date has investigated over 150 cases that have resulted in 32 district employees put under formal disciplinary review.
The team, made up of seven full-time investigators, a supervising investigator and two forensic specialists, is headed by Jose Cantu, a district veteran of 31 years, 14 of them as a principal.
“I’m the one that brings the school and district experience to the team so the team can undertand the rules and policies that the teachers are breaking when we are investigating,” he said.
Cantu’s team does not determine possible discipline or dismissal of employees but passes its reports on to the administration, which then decides the final outcome.
Of the investigators, four are former LAPD detectives, and one is a former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigator. Cantu said he believes the unit is unique for a major school district. Other large districts, like New York, he said, have hired outside contractors for similar work, but all the members of his team are full-time LAUSD employees.