Members of the Pasadena Unified School District board have rallied behind Supt. Phillip Jordan, who is among 17 people being questioned in a district attorney's investigation of why Los Angeles school authorities took more than a year to report child molestation allegations against a Los Angeles teacher. Jordan was a regional superintendent in the Los Angeles district at the time.
Kathryn T. Nack, president of the Pasadena Board of Education, said board members are "fully supportive" of Jordan, who she said assured them that he followed proper procedures in reporting the charges.
Jordan was superintendent of Region C, which covers more than 60 schools in central Los Angeles, before he became Pasadena's superintendent last February.
Nack said Jordan told her last week that he reported the incidents to the Los Angeles district's central office as soon as he learned of them last December.
Jordan could not be reached for comment and a member of his staff said he would not comment on the case because it is under investigation.
Terry Bartholome, 48, has been charged with one count of rape and 27 counts of molestation and lewd conduct, allegedly committed in 1983 and 1984 when he was a third-grade teacher in the 68th Street Elementary School in Region C.
Bill Rivera, assistant to Los Angeles Supt. Harry Handler and spokesman for the district, confirmed that Jordan was the first to report allegations against Bartholome to the school district's central office, which has the responsibility of reporting to police.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Lawrence Mason said the investigation is focusing on why it took a year for the district to report to Los Angeles police after the first of four accusations were made against Bartholome. Under state law, it is a misdemeanor for school officials to fail to alert law enforcement officials when they suspect that a child has been sexually or physically abused.
The Los Angeles school district has completed its internal investigation and will present the results its Board of Education on Monday, Rivera said.
Rivera said that last February Stuart Bernstein, one of Jordan's two top assistants, was reprimanded for not relaying reports of accusations against Bartholome. Rivera said the 68th Street school's principal, Alice McDonald, had reported four incidents of alleged sexual molestation to the Region C office between November, 1983, and November, 1984. The reports did not reach Jordan until December, 1984, when he notified the central office, Rivera said.
"We're trying to determine where there was a breakdown, why they weren't reported properly to police," Rivera said of the school district's investigation.
"We give regional superintendents wide latitude in how they run their districts. We're still looking to see what kind of pattern there was that permitted something to happen."
Jordan is being questioned "because it was his district," Rivera said. He said the Los Angeles school district is cooperating with the district attorney's office in its investigation.
Jordan, 53, was named superintendent of the Pasadena Unified School District in February, succeeding Ramon C. Cortines.