First published in the Jan. 21 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
A lawsuit filed against a John Burroughs High School teacher and the Burbank Unified School District alleges that a male teacher sexually assaulted two children on separate occasions between the years of 2000 and 2020.
The lawsuit is brought by two former Burroughs students who say they were molested about 18 years apart while they attended the school. The first student — now an adult — was allegedly molested during the 2001-2002 school year, and the second student was allegedly molested in the teacher’s classroom from September 2019 to March 2020.
“Burbank Unified School District knew that [the teacher] was a threat to students prior to molesting [a student] in the early 2000s. BUSD did nothing to remove the teacher from students or to warn students and their parents that he posed a danger to them,” the lawsuit states.
According to the parent of one victim, who spoke with the Leader, the teacher was on leave in September 2021 while the district investigated the matter but resumed his position in April 2022.
“What the teacher has done is wrong and what the district has done is wrong. It is a moral outrage that has been snuffed out for decades,” the parent said. “This is not just a community spectacle. This is about what I believe are dozens of victims and their families’ lives that have irrevocably destroyed,” said the parent.
Superintendent Matt Hill told the Leader that BUSD staff is unable to comment on details regarding the case, as it relates to the confidential matters of students and staff.
Burroughs Principal Matt Chambers sent an email to parents on Wednesday, which stated: “It has come to our attention that a court document regarding one of our teachers is circulating among the John Burroughs High School Community. To be clear, the safety and well-being of all Burbank Unified School District students is our unwavering commitment and highest priority. The district is also committed to transparent and direct communication with our parents and the BUSD community at large.”
Chambers went on to write that no allegations against the teacher have been substantiated, and that district staff would be unable to comment further. He added that the district takes all appropriate measures to verify the merits of the allegations and to ensure student safety.
The lawsuit was filed by attorney Omar Qureshi, who told the Leader that the district is not being forthcoming in the matter.
“Even now, the district has only commented that no new reports have emerged since the lawsuit was filed,” Qureshi said. “The district said nothing about past allegations against the teacher. Students have long known about the teacher’s improper behavior, and it is time that we shine a light on the district’s cover ups, so that no more children have to suffer abuse under its watch.”
In a separate incident last month, more than a dozen students protested outside the high school, alleging that Burroughs administrators failed to properly investigate a report of alleged sexual assault perpetrated by a male student.