Amazingly, Brentwood school officials' insular reaction to the case of a teacher who criminally abused a student continues to get worse.

Instructional aides witnessed the 2010 incident, in which teacher Dina Holder pulled a 5-year-old student from his chair and kicked him as he lay on the ground. Yet school officials never reported it to police and didn't notify the parents until a week after the incident.

Then, the district kept the teacher in the classroom for 2 ½ years, even though they had no doubt what she had done and even after she pleaded no contest to misdemeanor child abuse.

It took a lawsuit filed by the parents to finally force her removal this month and bring the case to light.

Did district officials apologize for their response and admit their errors? No! They tried to justify their behavior. Speaking through their attorney, Laurie Juengert, on Wednesday in a meeting packed with angry parents, administrators and trustees claimed they couldn't fire her.

That's not so. True, it would have been easier to dismiss her had she been convicted of a felony. True, the laws surrounding teacher discipline are way too one-sided in favor of the instructors. True, that needs to be fixed by the Legislature.

But a misdemeanor involving "moral turpitude" is also sufficient grounds for dismissal.

As attorney and teacher dismissal expert Robert Henry told Bay Area News Group reporter Matthias Gafni, "it would not be an open-and-shut case. It would be an issue reasonable lawyers would argue."


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But the sad part is that the district didn't even try. In a case this egregious, there was no excuse for turning away from the legal fight.

But that's not the worst of it. The district not only didn't fire her, they didn't remove her from the classroom. They were concerned about ending up with a teacher collecting a paycheck without performing work. They were concerned about it looking like the infamous "rubber rooms" of Los Angeles and New York, where incompetent teachers are sent when they can't perform, but can't be fired.

In other words, Holder was kept in the classroom because of public relations concerns, not for legal reasons. For 2 ½ years after she criminally abused one of her students, she was left in charge of other children. Their parents were never told.

That is not only unacceptable, it is unconscionable.

If Superintendent Merrill Grant and assistant Superintendent Margaret Kruse still believe that was an appropriate solution, they should resign -- now. They have no business staying in public education. If any of the school trustees think this was OK, they should go, too.

This issue isn't going away. There is no justification for district officials' inaction. It's time for them to admit it.