Fallout over students being invited to an adult themed party by Claremont Unified School District President Steven Llanusa early this month, and his subsequent resignation, continued to outrage parents and other residents this week as the District scrambles to come up with answers.
The scandal itself dates back to December 3rd, when Llanusa threw a holiday-themed party at his home in Claremont, less than a month after he was reelected to the Board. As part of the party, Llanusa paid members of the Claremont High School choir to attend as the party was doubling as a fundraiser. However, the party itself quickly turned out to be more adult than previously stated, with half naked servers, such as shirtless elves and a “dirty” Santa, and the underage choir members being offered alcohol. Some students even stayed there for over 4 hours. Photos of the party in action were also put out on social media shortly afterwards.
The party quickly ignited a furor that grew all week, with the Claremont Police Department and School Board both launching investigations. A special School Board meeting was subsequently held on December 9th, in which the parents of students who went to the party recounted what had happened.
“Upon the student’s arrival, Mr. Llanusa invited the high school choir group into his private adult party in his home,” said Sabrina Ho, one of the parents, at the meeting. “They were encouraged to take part in food and festivities. The students didn’t begin their scheduled performance until over an hour later and were offered alcohol by party guests among inappropriately dressed entertainers. My son did not feel he should or could leave because a CUSD school board member in charge asked him to stay.”
Another parent, Gabriel Lozano, added “They were offered an open bar and to socialize with half-naked men, the dirty Santa who made disgusting comments to our children. There was no school official there to chaperone the children.”
Board members acted quickly, giving Llanusa a vote of no confidence, asking for his immediate resignation, and Board members frantically noting that no other members of the Board had gone to the party in question.
“I would like to be perfectly clear there were no other current or past board members present at that party,” added Vice President Kathy Archer.
“The CUSD also released a statement after the meeting, which said in part that “We are appalled by the allegations, which are understandably causing distraction, disruption and pain, as expressed in community members’ messages to the Board and Superintendent.
“Though the board cannot require Mr. Llanusa’s resignation, we encourage him to do so in order to begin the process of healing and returning our focus to students and their well-being. We believe our dedicated professionals who work in CUSD schools, teaching, supporting, and nurturing our students deserve for us to stay focused. The families and caregivers who trust their children to us deserve our full attention to their students’ needs. Our students, the heart of our work, inspire us to do all that we can to support their learning.
“Thank you for trusting us to keep the organization focused on service to students as the Board and our community navigate its way through this terribly unfortunate situation.”
Outrage in Claremont
With pressure mounting, Llanusa resigned the very next day, opting for an e-mailed letter rather than give a speech to the press.
“Earlier today, Board Vice President Archer and I received a letter of resignation from Board member Steven Llanusa, effective immediately,” noted CUSD Superintendent Jim Elsasser. “In the very near future, the Board of Trustees will discuss the next steps for filling this vacant position. Thank you for your patience during this very difficult week.”
Furor continued this week, with the Board itself still being under fire for how this was allowed. While the Board has largely evaded those difficult questions, they are also now in the process of getting a replacement, with one expected to be announced soon. A board meeting held Thursday led to positive steps of a replacement, with future board meetings expected to address the situation more clearly with the facts of the investigation being known.
In the meantime however, both parents and residents still remain upset over the party, with demands of change not going away.
“If someone wants a party with all that going on, that’s fine,” explained Ross Nichols, a Claremont resident who was amongst the outraged parents and residents in the last few weeks demanding change. “From what we know, it could have even been ok for an office party as long as no one objected to it beforehand. But the district had nothing in the books to prevent this from happening. Llanusa is still the main guy at fault here of course. But the district failed to have something stopping this, like a district rule with severe consequences, or a rule of parents coming along or something.
“Meeting teachers or other staff after school hours out of the school is often discouraged, and if it happens, parents are always involved in some way. But here, a bunch of students went to a board members house, with no chaperones, with alcohol present, and adult themes. Not only that, but they were also paid. This is why we’re still upset.
“If he didn’t have the choir there, it would have probably just been remembered as a fun party. Instead, because he brought kids from the school there, it’s a scandal that is now nationally known.”
More updates on the CUSD board member party scandal are expected soon.
- New Bill To Repeal Prop. 47, Lower Felony Theft Threshold of $950 to $400 - January 31, 2023
- Bill To Increase Media and State Official Access To Prisons Introduced - January 31, 2023
- Infant Formula Stockpile Bill Moves To Assembly Health Committee - January 30, 2023