Long Beach votes to fire teacher accused of abusing special-needs students

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LONG BEACH -

A teacher who was kicked out of the classroom over allegations she abused special-education students five years ago has now been fired.

The firing of Long Beach teacher Lisa Weitzman took only a couple of minutes at Tuesday night's school board meeting, ending a five-year legal fight between the district and the embattled special-education instructor.

Weitzman was suspended in 2014 after being accused of abusing special-needs students in her class at Long Beach Middle School. All of the students were between 14 and 18 years old, with severe mental disabilities.

Jim Mulvaney, a private investigator hired by some parents of the alleged victims, says Weitzman physically struck the students and psychologically abused them.

Weitzman faced eight charges of abuse. A state hearing officer found Weitzman guilty of three of the charges, including placing a student in a bathroom for an unauthorized and inappropriate "timeout," physically grabbing a student and pushing him against a wall, and giving Motrin pain reliever to a student on one or more occasions.

The hearing officer, Robert Grey, wrote in his opinion that the district proved Weitsman's actions against her disabled students involved "patterns of intentional, premeditated and ongoing acts of misconduct, neglect of duty and conduct unbecoming of a teacher."

Grey recommended the district fire Weitzman, stating she "irreparably shattered the bonds of trust that are integral to employment as a teacher for the District. This is especially true for a special education teacher of undisputedly vulnerable, non-verbal students with severe disabilities."

Weitzman has denied the allegations the whole time and was put on paid leave since 2014, collecting more than $500,000 since. Weitzman's tenure stopped the district from firing her immediately, but a state arbitrator's verdict gave the district the green light to dismiss her.

MORE: Officials: Long Beach teacher accused of abuse to be fired

Weitzman was not present at Tuesday's meeting. Her attorney issued a statement saying in part that the decision is unfounded and unfair and that Weitzman is weighing her legal options.

Weitzman and the school district are facing lawsuits from the parents who say their children were abused by Weitzman.

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