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Cielo Vista Principal Says Controversial Teacher Is No Longer on Duty

A second-grade teacher on leave for nearly a year after a potentially criminal off-campus confrontation with children returned to work Monday to the protest of many parents.

KTLA screenshot of Cielo Vista Elementary teacher Thomas Hammer.
KTLA screenshot of Cielo Vista Elementary teacher Thomas Hammer.
Thomas Hammer, a second grade teacher who had been on administrative leave for nearly a year following an off-campus confrontation with a child, is no longer on duty despite returning to school Monday, Cielo Vista Principal Beth Ewing told parents in a recent email. 

Hammer was placed on leave in June after being arrested in connection with the incident caught on tape [above, warning: Includes cussing], showing Hammer shoving a boy off a skateboard, threatening to hit another boy with that skateboard, then trying to chuck the skateboard over a nearby wall.

After the felony charge was reduced to a misdemeanor, the district allowed Hammer to return to work at the Rancho Santa Margarita campus.

When parents caught wind that Hammer would be back Monday, they pulled their students out of school and complained to the media. Saddleback Valley Unified officials said Hammer would work only in a support role to teachers, not as a teacher himself.

But Hammer is no longer on duty, Ewing told parents.

"I would like to follow up on my previous messages regarding a staff member. The district is currently working with the staff member and his representatives to develop a resolution. The staff member will not be on duty until a resolution is reached. If more information becomes available, I will share it with you.  I am encouraging all families to continue with their regular routines and can assure everyone that children are safe on our campus."

Here's Ewing's first email to parents. As she states, it's unusual for administrators to discuss a personnel matter publicly:

Dear Cielo Vista Family,

I have received numerous emails and phone calls regarding a personnel issue at our school.  I am responding by sharing the following information with the entire Cielo Vista School Community.  We generally do not comment specifically on personnel issues however, in this case there are matters of public record that we can address and confirm, specifically regarding a public video and public charges. A staff member was arrested and charged on felony counts stemming from conduct revealed in a YouTube video that was posted for general public viewing.  As soon as the district became aware of the felony arrest and charge, the employee was removed from the workplace and remained on administrative leave pending criminal court proceedings. District staff viewed the video and found it to be disturbing. However, recently the felony charges were reduced to misdemeanor charges.  This change brought about a return to a work assignment. Although the employee did not return to a classroom teaching assignment, he was working with other teachers. He is on leave until further notice. We are committed to working toward a resolution to this matter.

Thank you for your support,

Beth Ewing, Principal

Cielo Vista Elementary School



Louf55 May 21, 2014 at 12:37 PM
And not a peep from the CTA.
LamorindaMan May 22, 2014 at 12:40 AM
That dude is cray.

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