By Brian Charles, Staff Writer
PASADENA – John Muir High School Ken Howard has been charged with misdemeanor battery stemming from a Sept. 28 dustup with a student at the school, according to reports.
Pasadena City Attorney Michele Beal Bagneris filed the charges.
Howard allegedly slammed Erick Rodriguez into a bank of computers, grabbed him by the neck and slammed the boy into a row of lockers. Rodriguez suffered multiple bruises due to the incident, according to medical reports.
Howard, a former security guard with the Pasadena Unified School District, was asked to perform a bag search by a Muir administrator. Howard was not a district employee at the time of the search.
He has been placed on administrative leave, indefinitely stripping Howard of his duties as head football coach. The PUSD launched an investigation, but has not released any findings.
Misdemeanor battery on schools grounds is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine, according to state law. Howard ‘s attorney Joe Hopkins was not available for comment.
Pasadena attorney Brian Claypool represents Rodriguez and a second student, Johnny Moreno who claims to have been “roughed up” by Los Angeles County Probation Officer Gary Johnson during the incident.
Like Howard, Johnson is a fixture on the campus, Moreno said.
Claypool applauded the move by the City Attorney.
“I think that the City Attorney followed through and pressed charges validates the perception of my clients, and other students in the classroom, that Coach Howard used unnecessary excessive force on Erick, and physically harmed him when Erick posed no threat to the coach,” Claypool said. “It also underscores the grave need for leadership at Muir and the PUSD.”
Claypool said the incident highlights the needs for policy changes across the district.
“A crime has been committed by someone who is not an on-staff security guard at the school,” Claypool said. “An immediate revamping of the protocol on who’s responsible for security is on order.”
The students filed a notice of claim with the district and threatened a lawsuit against the PUSD, if mediation wasn’t agreed to by today.
“They have not responded with a phone call or a letter to my demand letter, Claypool said. “I am going to work on filing the lawsuit next week. They think we are barking and we have no bite. They are going to get a big piece bitten out of them soon, because this federal law suit is coming.”
Claypool claims that his clients’ civil rights were violated during the incident.