Settlement: Former LAUSD Superintendent Subject of Sexual Harassment Claim

The district settled a claim made by a male employee against the former superintendent

The Los Angeles Unified School District has settled a claim over allegations of sexual harassment against former Superintendent Ramon Cortines, a nationally respected educator.

Scot Graham, a 56-year-old senior management employee in the district's facilities division, made the allegations, the district announced on its Facebook page.

Graham received $200,000 and lifetime health benefits worth $250,000 and has agreed to resign, according to Lisa Gritzner, a spokesperson for the district's outside attorney in the matter. The settlement of the claim means the matter will not proceed to court.

In a statement released by the district, Cortines, 79, denied all sexual harassment allegations but admitted to "consensual spontaneous adult behavior" between the pair during a weekend trip. He said the pair were friends before and after Cortines worked at the district.

The allegations stemmed from an incident at Cortines' ranch in Kern County, Gritzner said..

"This brief private encounter occurred during a non-District related trip, outside of Los Angeles County and at my private residence," Cortines said in his statement.

"As the District’s former top staff member, I regret allowing myself to engage in such spontaneous, consensual behavior. However, Mr. Graham had never indicated to me that our interaction was unwelcome," Cortines said.  

Cortines retired last year from his second stint as the leader of the nation's second largest school district. He said in his statement that he continued to interact with Graham socially after his retirement.

Cortines' replacement, Superintendent John Deasy, noted in a statement that the "alleged conduct" occured before Deasy's tenure with the district.

The Board of Education said in a statement: "We take all sexual harassment allegations seriously. In all cases, the Board gives maximum consideration to the best use of public funds and the District must ensure that it uses its precious resources wisely."

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