School District Won’t Release Video Of Principal’s Tussle With Second Grader

The San Bernardino City Unified School District has refused the Sentinel’s request that it release a video of George Brown Elementary School Principal Dr. Christine Ramirez’s altercation with a second grade student that took place early this school year.
On August 5, for a yet unexplained reason, interaction between the student, a seven-year-old, turned violent.
According to an account of what occurred that was provided to the Sentinel, Dr. Ramirez first engaged with the student in an outdoor area of the school grounds, after which he was taken into a classroom.
A teacher who went into the room shortly thereafter saw two other teachers restraining the student restrained on the floor. The Sentinel was further told that several students saw what was going on, as did at least two teachers. According to an individual with knowledge about what occurred, some of the students and at least one of the teachers found the incident to be traumatizing.
The Sentinel was informed, and subsequently confirmed, that there is a video of Dr. Ramirez’s interaction with the second grader. The video was reportedly turned over to the San Bernardino Police Department.
Despite repeated and persistent efforts by the Sentinel to learn from the department’s official spokesman, Sergeant Equino Thomas, what action and determination the department has made on the basis of that video, no information has been forthcoming from the department. As best as can be determined, Dr. Ramirez has not been arrested or charged or relieved of her position. No formal statement to that effect has been provided by the police department.
The Sentinel has the name of the student but is withholding it from publication while conducting further inquiries with the district about the matter.
On September 29, the Sentinel made a request under the California Public Records Act that the district provide “a copy of the video footage depicting the physical interaction/confrontation/altercation between Principal Dr. Christine Ramirez and [the student] which took place on or around August 5, 2022 at George Brown Jr. Elementary School.”
On October 11, the Sentinel received a response from Harold Sullins, the district’s associate superintendent for business, facilities, and operations.
“Your request is denied pursuant to Government Code sections 6254(c), 6254(k) and 6255, individual privacy rights existing under the California Constitution and the United States Constitution, Education Code sections 49060, et seq., and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, known as ‘FERPA’(20 U.S.C. section 1232g; see also Rim of the World Unified School District v. Superior Court, et al. (2002) 104 Cal.App.4th 1393, 1399 and Poway Unified School District v. Superior Court (Copley Press) (1998) 62 Cal.App.4th 1496,1506.)”
Government Code Section 6254(c) pertains to withholding from disclosure any information, data or material requested under the California Public Records Act “Personnel, medical, or similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
Government Code Section 6254(k) pertains to withholding from disclosure any information, data or material requested under the California Public Records Act “Records, the disclosure of which is exempted or prohibited pursuant to federal or state law, including, but not limited to, provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege.”
Government Code Section 6255, pertains to withholding from disclosure any information, data or material requested under the California Public Records Acthe agency shall justify withholding any record on the basis that express provisions of of the government code exempt disclosure or “on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.”
Government Code Section 6255, nonetheless contains a provision that a government agency in withholding the records or documents from disclosure can do so only “by demonstrating that the record in question is exempt.”
Sullins offered no such demonstration or explicit explanation of how or why the video is exempt.
Sullins’ citation of with its reference to “provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege” implies but does not explicitly state that there is an ongoing investigation into the matter or a pending legal action arising from it.” Sullins, however, offered no further clarification of how Government Code Section 6254(k) applied to the video.
The Sentinel is conferring with legal counsel and examining its options on how to obtain further information with regard to the August 5 incident involving Principal Ramirez and the student.

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