Local News

Wednesday, Apr 09 2014 06:00 AM

TUSD employee arrested

A Tehachapi Unified School District employee was arrested on Monday, March 31, on charges relating to animal cruelty and is scheduled to be arraigned in Kern County Superior Court at Mojave on April 14.

Maggie Kalar of Kern County Animal Control told the Tehachapi News that the arrest was for a felony and deferred to the Kern County District Attorney's office for further information. The DA's office had not returned a call for information by press-time Monday.

According to Sgt. Doug Wilson of the Kern County Sheriff's Office, Hutton was being held on $15,000 bail and was released the same day he was arrested.

TUSD Board of Trustees President Mary Graham told the Tehachapi News that Hutton has been placed on administrative leave pending completion of the any investigation by law enforcement and by the district.

Graham said that because the district's Director of Maintenance and Operations -- who supervises the employee who was arrested -- is the husband of Superintendent of Schools Lisa Gilbert, the matter is being handled by the board rather than Gilbert.

"This decision was made at the Superintendent's urging, and I appreciate her efforts to protect the fidelity and integrity of the investigation," Graham said. "This is the type of proactive, responsible leadership we have come to expect of Ms. Gilbert."

Details surrounding the arrest were not released.

Graham said that the district has asked for assistance from the Kern County Superintendent of Schools office and that an administrator from that office who has previously worked as a school superintendent will conduct the investigation for the district.

"The Board took immediate steps to authorize a prompt investigation once we have clearance from law enforcement," Graham said.

She added that pending a district-level investigation, the potential involvement of other employees has not been determined. Wilson said Monday morning that no other arrests had been made.

Many rumors have circulated since the arrest including allegations that other school district employees had knowledge of a practice of killing cats and other small animals on district property.

"Naturally, the district takes the allegations very seriously and is taking prompt action to review the situation," Graham said. "At the same time, we do not want to jump to conclusions until we have had the opportunity to review all relevant information."

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