Los Angeles Times
The president of the Claremont Unified Board of Education resigned Saturday after parents accused him of having members of a high school choir attend a private Christmas party that included alcohol, shirtless male entertainers and a “dirty Santa.”
Steven Llanusa had just won reelection to the school board in November, but the 62-year-old educator resigned just hours after angry parents at a board meeting accused him of exposing students to inappropriate behavior during the party at his home.
Claremont Unified Supt. Jim Elsasser confirmed to The Times that Llanusa had resigned from his post, effective immediately.
“The board will be discussing next steps to fill this vacancy during this Thursday’s regularly scheduled board meeting,” he said in an email.
Llanusa’s resignation came after several parents said Friday that their children, members of the Claremont High School choir program, performed at Llanusa’s home as part of an effort to raise money for the program.
Parents said students were at the Dec. 3 party for about an hour before their performance and during that time witnessed a “dirty Santa,” who made inappropriate comments, as well as shirtless male entertainers.
One parent, Gabriel Lozano, told CBS Los Angeles some of the students were “offered an open bar” and that the Santa at the party “made disgusting comments to our children.”
Another parent, Sabrina Ho, also alleged students were offered alcohol by guests.
The Claremont Police Department confirmed an investigation had been opened into some of the allegations made by parents during the board meeting but declined to offer additional details about its inquiry.
Llanusa did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
During Friday’s board meeting, several parents called for Llanusa to resign.
Kathy Archer, vice president of the board, said no other current or former members of the board had attended the holiday party. Llanusa was not at Friday’s meeting, which had been called to address parents’ concerns about the party.
“We are appalled by the allegations, which are understandably causing distraction, disruption and pain, as expressed in community members’ messages to the Board and Superintendent,” the board said in a statement.
After the meeting, members of the board met in closed session with school board attorneys about the allegations. Although the board is not legally allowed to disclose what was discussed during the closed session with attorneys, the board’s statement afterward stated it was encouraging Llanusa to resign “to begin the process of healing and returning our focus to students and their well-being.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.