UPDATE: Andreesen on Wednesday said the suit settled for $2.25 million. He said the community should be proud of Lopeteguy and the two officers for honoring their oath as police officers and refusing to engage in illegal conduct.
“These three officers should be commended for what they did, and what they refused to do,” Andreesen said.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A notice of settlement has been filed in a lawsuit brought by officers who alleged retaliation by the Kern High School District after an investigation discovered administrators and other district employees misused a criminal database to investigate students, according to court filings.
Last week, Joel Andreesen of Rodriguez and Associates, representing one of the plaintiffs, filed paperwork saying a settlement had been reached. The court is giving all parties 45 days finalize the agreement and dismiss the case, according to Superior Court records. The terms were not disclosed.
Andreesen and Debbie Thompson of KHSD could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.
The suits were filed after an investigation into the district’s use of the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, known as CLETS, which provides access to rap sheets, warrants, arrests and vehicle information.
An investigation sparked by former KHSD Police Chief Joseph Lopeteguy in 2015 alleged the district conducted thousands of illegal searches by running student athletes’ license plate information and looking up job applicants, parents and even a special needs student.
A sheriff’s detective recommended Mike Collier, Lopeteguy’s predecessor as KHSD police chief, and district official Otis Jennings be charged with providing confidential information to unauthorized people. The District Attorney’s office declined the case due to insufficient evidence and issues regarding statute of limitations.
Lopeteguy and two KHSD officers — Jerald Wyatt and Gilbert Valdez — later sued on allegations district officials retaliated against them for the investigation. They alleged the district created a hostile work environment, harassing and threatening them and making secret audio recordings without their consent.
David Edmiston, who became acting KHSD chief in 2016 after Lopeteguy took a leave of absence, pleaded no contest later that year to secretly recording a conversation with one of his officers in connection with the case. He had faced four counts of eavesdropping.
The charge he pleaded to was dismissed a year later.