Below is a statement from Walnut Creek Mayor Cindy Silva on her thoughts on a mandated reporting internal investigation report released Wednesday by the city.
"I will begin by emphasizing that I have studied the report very carefully and thoroughly over the past two weeks. I have spent numerous hours reviewing and analyzing the findings and conclusions.
I am very pleased that the report clearly demonstrates that our City staff took "proactive steps to protect minors at the Lesher Center." These steps included terminating Pedroza on Thurs., Nov. 8 and, in addition, removing him from the cast of an upcoming Center REP production. The report also clearly concluded that staff did "not hinder efforts by any law enforcement agency to investigate suspected child abuse."
The report also provides the following facts to support the conclusions about the actions of our staff:
In addition, a key fact from the report is that the only issue our City staff was involved in addressing was the alleged incident in Danville. None of the witnesses interviewed knew of the separate allegations from the Pleasant Hill teens until after Pleasant Hill PD contacted Walnut Creek PD in early December, nearly a month after Pedroza's termination and the closure of the Danville case.
Again, all of these facts combine to support the report's conclusions that our staff took appropriate action to protect minors.
However, the investigator also opined on the City's highest-ranking managers. I am the senior member of the City Council and have served two times as mayor, and, from that perspective and my in-depth review of the report, I believe the report makes broad and poorly substantiated conclusions regarding their level of knowledge about or involvement in the handling of the allegation involving the part-time employee. From Scott Denison to Ken Nordhoff, nothing in the report changes my opinion of their integrity or character. I believe these employees are credible and dedicated to the safety and welfare of this community.
As for the question about mandated reporting and the City's policies: The majority of City programs that deal with children have, for many years, provided employees with thorough training in how to safely work with children and how to identify and handle suspected child abuse. That is a top priority. However, the investigation identified that one category of training, mandated reporter training, has not been provided consistently across the organization. The City has developed a draft mandated reporter policy, which is currently under review, to ensure that all staff who work with children know not only how to identify suspected child abuse or neglect but also precisely who must be contacted. Completing and implementing the new policy is the responsibility of our top managers.
Beyond that, the City Council is currently involved in the annual performance evaluation process for the City Manager and the City Attorney, the two employees that report directly to the Council. We will be looking at the full year's performance for both individuals, and I expect that, when we meet, the Council members will have an in-depth discussion on a wide range of issues from the past year and about the direction that we will provide for the coming year."