Questions linger over aid involved in $45 million settlement

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A week after the school district lost a multimillion-dollar student abuse lawsuit, questions about the status of the employee accused in the case persist.

The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District said ongoing legal concerns prevent it from answering questions about Galit Gottlieb’s employment status while the district considers appealing the recent judgment.

Last month, a jury ruled the district should pay the family of twins with special needs $45 million after Gottlieb, a behavioral assistant at Juan Cabrillo Elementary School in Malibu, was found guilty of physically assaulted two seven-year-old autistic children.

The 2019 lawsuit alleged that Gottlieb used corporal punishment, including physical restraint, physical violence and intentional bodily harm against the two sophomores with special needs.

The incidents described in the case occurred during the 2017-2018 school year and were initially reported by a district bus driver, who said he witnessed Gottlieb physically restraining and punishing students by putting disinfectant on them. hands on their cuts.

Gottlieb and SMMUSD have been named as defendants in the lawsuit, along with other administrators who the plaintiffs allege breached their legal duty to report abuse.

Gottlieb said she was innocent of the allegations, but declined to provide an additional statement on the advice of her attorney. The district said its discussions with its attorneys are ongoing about the potential appeals and no details would be available until a decision is made.

Gottlieb continued to work with students throughout the trial, and SMMUSD said it had no record of any complaints during that time. Employees of Franklin Elementary School, where Gottlieb would have worked until the judgment, were asked not to comment on the matter and to direct all questions to a statement from Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati.

The statement makes no mention of Gottlieb

“We are committed to ensuring that nothing like what has been claimed here can ever happen in the future,” Drati said. “We must always examine our shortcomings, but we are also determined to protect the well-being of thousands of our future students and to ensure that an unduly punitive reward cannot affect the quality of education for an entire generation. .”

Although there is no evidence that Gottlieb was fired, she was not seen on campus in the past week. The district has the option of putting an employee on a “home assignment,” which includes full pay and benefits with administrative tasks that can be done remotely.

editor@smdp.com

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