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Parents object to school superintendent's past

ABC7 Eyewitness News HD covering Los Angeles and Southern California.

December 7, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Parents held a protest in Riverside Tuesday over a school superintendent whose distant past, they say, includes inappropriate behavior with a student.Tuesday morning outside Riverside Christian Schools, parents dropped off their children but stayed behind. Many stood outside the campus in protest of the school board's decision to support the superintendent.

"We're concerned that a man this board has put in charge of our kids, we're not comfortable with him based on his past," said one parent, Pastor Donovan Gordon.

Gordon's two children are enrolled at the school. He says six months ago Richard Odegaard was brought in as the superintendent.

Parents say they learned through a private investigator they hired that 34 years ago Odegaard had been involved in an act of sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old student when he was a school administrator, which, they say, Odegaard admitted to.

They also discovered in 2006 Odegaard also resigned from another Christian school after he was accused of molesting four girls, but the allegations proved to be unfounded.

Parents say the nine-member school board never told them about the two incidents.

"I am appalled and I am upset, especially at a Christian school with the morals and values that we hold for our kids, that they would allow a man with this kind of history to even be hired," said parent Lisa Cumming.

The school board sent out a letter to parents saying they were satisfied with their own findings and fully supported Odegaard's leadership.

Eyewitness News attempted to speak with the board's president and school principal. Both refused to answer questions.

"These parents have contacted the board of this school, I personally have contacted them and they've told us point-blank, 'If you do not like what is happening here take your kids and go,'" said Donovan Gordon.

Parents say pulling their children out of school unfairly punishes them.

"I feel like we have a vested interest," said Cummings. "I mean, my daughter has a right to finish out her senior year at a school that she has been at since the fourth grade."


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