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Fired School Guard Should Be Reinstated, Judge Rules

November 11, 1990

BELLFLOWER — A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled that the Bellflower Unified School District should reinstate a Bellflower High School security guard who was fired earlier this year after he failed to appear at a basketball game that he was to supervise.

Security Guard Keith Castruita had filed suit against the district alleging that he was fired in retaliation for complaining that the school vice principal, Tom Davies, was racist. The charge was denied by district officials, who said that Castruita was fired because he was an undependable employee.

Judge John Zebrowski ruled that no evidence of racial discrimination existed, but said that Castruita had been wrongfully terminated and that the complaints about his absence on the job did not merit his dismissal.

Eric Bathen, the attorney representing the district, said he believed the judge's ruling was inconsistent.

"The judge denied their principal argument, he said there was no evidence of discrimination, yet he ruled that Castruita should not have been dismissed," Bathen said. "That (reinstatement) is not really what they were arguing about."

Castruita said he was "very gratified by the decision," but was disappointed that the judge had found insufficient evidence of racial discrimination.

The judge has yet to sign an order mandating reinstatement, Bathen said. Once he does, the district can choose whether to obey the order or appeal. The Bellflower Unified School District board will meet Nov. 15 to discuss the issue.

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