A former high school principal who won a wrongful termination lawsuit against the LA Unified School District says he has no choice but to continue an expensive legal fight in order to clear his name and reputation, after he was falsely accused of manipulating grades and having inappropriate contact with students.
"To pay for the first attorney, we had to sell my wife's wedding ring," Jason Camp told the I-Team. "And then to pay for the second attorneys and the fees thereafter, we had to sell our home."
This week, after more than five years of legal battles, Camp says the case still isn't over, now that the LAUSD has asked a judge to set aside a $2.5-million verdict awarded to Camp at the end of a jury trial in January.
Attorneys hired by LAUSD have asked for a new trial. A judge will hear argument Friday.
According to Camp's lawsuit he was principal of Owensmouth Continuation High School in Canoga Park when he was accused in an anonymous complaint in 2016 of manipulating grades. An administrative trial board later found no evidence of wrongdoing and ordered Camp reinstated.
By the time that ruling was issued Camp had already found a new job and declined the offer; he then sued the District for wrongful termination and retaliation.
The case went to trial in October, 2021, and according to a variety of court documents, on the fourth day of the trial, during testimony, lawyers for LAUSD asked questions that suggested to jurors that Camp was the subject of an ongoing investigation related to the sexual abuse of students.
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It wasn't true.
A 2016 LAPD crime report said the, "investigation determined false accusation," and Camp's lawyer said the only open case was the subsequent police effort to identify the person who made the false police report.
"The final accusations of being called a child rapist, I can't even begin to describe the fear that was going through my heart when I heard that in open court," Camp said. "And the fact that they kept saying it was an open investigation was devastating."
Camp's lawyer has also filed a motion for legal sanctions against the attorneys defending LAUSD stemming from the sexual assault questions and the handling of investigative records before and during the trial.
"LAUSD and its counsel’s misconduct should not be excused merely because the jury returned a verdict mostly in Plaintiff’s favor," attorney Renuka Jain wrote in the motion.
"Despite the court’s repeated admonitions, LAUSD and its counsel showed no remorse continuing to mislead, misrepresent and divert the court, disingenuously claiming the false testimony was impeachment evidence and a justified defense to Plaintiff’s claim of retaliation," the motion said.
An LAUSD spokesperson declined to comment on the matter Thursday, citing the ongoing litigation.
Camp is now the assistant principal at El Camino Charter High School in Woodland Hills and says he's grateful administrators there recognized the false accusations for what they were.
"The best thing I can do is pick up the pieces and move forward and try to build a new career and a new future with new friends," Camp said.
"I don't know that the district can ever give me back what I've lost. I don't know that I'll ever get back my reputation and the time that I've had to struggle with my family to make sure things are good," he said.
"But what I would like to see happen is that somebody be held accountable."