Covina-Valley Schools Superintendent Is Under Police Investigation For Alleged Misconduct Involving Students

A Change.org petition created in support of Richard Sheehan has now closed. (Screenshot from change.org)

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Covina-Valley Unified School District Superintendent Richard Sheehan is on paid administrative leave while police investigate allegations of misconduct involving current and former students.

"Allegations have been made against CVUSD Superintendent Dr. Richard Sheehan of misconduct involving three potential victims," the Covina Police Department said in a statement. "These three victims are former and current students of CVUSD."

The nearby Glendora Police Department is leading the investigation, but declined to comment on the status of it, the nature of the allegations, or when they allegedly occurred.

In an email to the school community, Elizabeth Eminhizer, who was appointed acting superintendent by the board on Monday night, said the district became aware of "serious allegations" shared on social media over the weekend, and that Sheehan was placed on paid administrative leave.

Eminhizer added that the district is cooperating with the police investigation, while also conducting its own. She too did not describe the specific allegations.

"Students in Covina-Valley Unified are our number one priority," Eminhizer wrote in the email. "We take student safety seriously and hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards."

LAist's efforts to reach Sheehan have been unsuccessful so far. Calls to a phone number associated with him went to a voice mailbox, which was full and not recording new messages.

The district's board had called a special board meeting Monday night with one item on the agenda: considering the "discipline/dismissal/release" of an employee. The special meeting, which was streamed online, received 132 public comments before the meeting through a Google form posted on the district website.

Not all of them were read aloud, even after the board extended the initial 20 minute limit for public comment. The ones that were read were overwhelmingly in support of Sheehan and his record as an educator.

Very few addressed any allegations against the superintendent.

"He did do some very effective things for our district," board member Darrell Myrick told LAist. "But no level of platitudes or accomplishments can allow somebody to violate the standards and policies of our district, and that's something that we have to maintain focus on."

The board went into closed session to discuss the matter, and the members returned with a statement after about half an hour.

"The Board of Education feels that it is in the best interest of our district and the community to postpone making any decision in respect to Dr. Sheehan's employment in light of the developing allegations and evidence that's been brought to our attention," it announced.

Over the weekend and before Monday's board meetings, supporters of Sheehan gathered in person and turned to social media sharing messages with the hashtags #IStandWithSheehan and #WeStandWithSheehan. A change.org petition was also circulated, getting more than 3,000 supporters before it was closed.

Initially, the teacher's union also came out in strong support of the superintendent. After becoming aware of the allegations, however, the union released a new a statement that did not name Sheehan but said, "we respect and defend the right to due process and confidentiality in all personnel matters.

"As such, we intend to allow the process to proceed uninterrupted and without any speculation," the statement continued.

According to Myrick, the board will wait for the findings of the investigations before making any final decisions.

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