Four senior Los Angeles Unified officials, including at least one whose name surfaced in connection with a molestation case at George De La Torre Elementary School in Wilmington, have been removed from their positions pending an internal investigation into "a confidential personnel matter," a district spokesman said Thursday.

Linda Del Cueto, the instructional leader for the North Educational Service Center, was the superintendent for the local district that included Wilmington when complaints about a fourth-grade teacher molesting multiple students at De La Torre first arose in 2009.

She and Michael Romero, who oversees LAUSD's Adult Education Division, were removed from their posts last Friday, according to district spokesman Tom Waldman. They have been assigned to remain at home and continue to receive their $171,200-a-year salaries.

Also removed from their jobs were Principals David Kooper of Gulf Elementary in Wilmington and Valerie Moses of Los Angeles Elementary.

Waldman said he could not disclose the reason for the reassignments. Superintendent John Deasy said all four reassignments were related to the same investigation, but he declined to elaborate.


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Del Cueto's name has emerged in a case involving Robert Pimentel, the teacher charged with molestation at De La Torre Elementary, and Irene Hinojosa, a veteran principal who retired after she was accused of not reporting the suspected abuse.

In 2009, Del Cueto was the superintendent for the local district that included Wilmington, and Romero and Moses oversaw clusters of elementary schools in the region. At the time, Kooper was chief of staff to Harbor Area school board member Richard Vladovic. Before he joined the school board, Vladovic had served as local superintendent for that district

According to a lawsuit filed against LAUSD, Hinojosa and Del Cueto were among several administrators who attended an October 2009 meeting at which parents said Pimentel had molested their daughters.

The suit, filed by attorney Luis Carrillo on behalf of three alleged victims of Pimentel, said the administrators failed to report the alleged abuse to authorities as required by law. The suit claims that district officials "buried" reports related to the 2009 meeting. Carrillo has filed a California Public Records Act request for the documents, which the district has denied.

The district received complaints in February 2012 that Pimentel had molested students beginning in 2008. LAUSD officials notified authorities, who opened an investigation.

Pimentel, 57, was arrested in January 2013 on charges of molesting a dozen students. He has pleaded not guilty, and remains jailed on $12 million bail.

Deasy has said that when the allegations surfaced last year, he reviewed files and learned that Pimentel had been accused in 2002 of molesting students at Dominguez Elementary in Carson. Pimentel was transferred to De La Torre in 2007, and Deasy said parents there complained the following year that he was inappropriately touching students.

Hinojosa had been Pimentel's principal at both Dominguez and De La Torre.

Deasy suspended her in March 2012 - about the same time Pimentel was pulled from the classroom - after a review of personnel files shows Hinojosa had failed to act on the 2002 allegations. Pimentel and Hinojosa both retired on the same day last April, as Deasy was moving to fire them.

On Friday, Deasy sent a letter to principals in ESC North, saying that Del Cueto had been "temporarily reassigned pending the conclusion of an internal investigation into a confidential personnel matter." In the interim, her position has been filled by Bryan Maltez.

A similar letter was sent to Adult School personnel about Romero, who has been temporarily replaced by Alma Pena Sanchez.

A spokeswoman for Vladovic referred requests for comment about Kooper to the school district's attorneys.

District general counsel David Holmquist did not return phone calls seeking comment.

However, in a June 2011 letter, Vladovic lauded Kooper for his work on behalf of Local District 7.

"The end of my 4th year on the board is also met with sadness, as my Chief of Staff David Kooper leaves my office to take over as Principal at Gulf Avenue Elementary School in Wilmington," Vladovic wrote. "He has helped the Board of Education develop innovative District policies and procedures as well as been a great friend to the schools and communities of Board District 7. Although I am excited for David, I am sad to see him go as he was truly a wonderful asset for my Board District. "

In published reports in 2010, when Del Cueto was reassigned to the San Fernando Valley, Vladovic also praised her work and that of Romero, who succeeded her as local superintendent.


Staff writer Rob Kuznia contributed to this report
Note: This story has been updated to reflect that Richard Vladovic was not the one who promoted Irene Hinojosa to the position of principal of George De La Torre Elementary School.