BRENTWOOD -- One parent after another excoriated Brentwood Union School District trustees Wednesday night after the district gave a presentation on the controversial transfer of a special needs teacher convicted of child abuse.
For 80 minutes, parents -- many of whom have special needs children who attended Dina Holder's class -- hurled cat calls at board members, shouted at Superintendent Merrill Grant and called for all the administrators' jobs.
In the chaotic meeting, the board only took questions and provided no answers to parents, drawing the ire of attendees. An attorney provided a PowerPoint presentation on the legal challenges of firing tenured teachers, but steered clear of specifics on the Brentwood case.
The controversy began last week after this newspaper reported on Loma Vista Elementary School special education teacher Dina Holder, 52, of Brentwood, who grabbed a 5-year-old special-needs student out of his chair in May 2010 and kicked him on the ground when he would not join the circle of her students.
After four days on administrative leave, Holder was transferred to another classroom in Krey Elementary until Jan. 11 when the district finalized a $950,000 settlement with Caneel Carlin's family.
As part of the deal, Holder was forced to immediately leave the classroom and then retire at the end of the school year. The district has said it tried to take faster action against Holder but "legal limitations" prevented them and apologized to the family for what happened.
A year ago, Carlin's family sued the school district, Holder and Loma Vista Principal Lauri James, claiming battery, negligence, failed mandated reporting duties and other infractions.
It was Carlin who reported the abuse to police, despite mandated reporting laws that require school officials to report such activities to authorities.
Holder pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor child abuse charge in October 2011 and received four years probation, along with a year of child abuse training and an order to stay away from her victim.
Stephanie Stewart's son Dylan, who has Down Syndrome, spent two years in Holder's class at Loma Vista.
"I've lost complete faith and I'm completely disappointed with the board members. I just have had a pit in my stomach ever since I found out about this," she said during a break in the meeting.
"I wake up in the middle of the night asking myself, 'Did I miss something? What could I have done differently to protect my son?'"
Stewart stood up during the public comment period, dabbing away her tears as she spoke about how her son's limited verbal abilities make her question what happened to him in Holder's classroom.
For the final 90 seconds of her allotted 3-minute speaking time, she stood holding the microphone in silence.
"I'm just going to stand here because that's all my son could do, she told the audience."
The board remained mostly quiet Wednesday night, but set a special meeting for next Tuesday.
The board president read a statement at the end of the public comment period, acknowledging the terrible nature of the incident and how the district will beef up its mandated reporting training.
The Wednesday school board presentation was informational only.
Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.