Lucia Mar knew pervert bus driver falsified application, still hired him

May 20, 2021

David Lamb

The Lucia Mar Unified School District hired a bus driver who sexually abused a special-needs 9-year-old girl after catching the man withholding from his job application that he was previously convicted of peeping. [Tribune]

David Kenneth Lamb, 52, abused the girl repeatedly when she was riding on his school bus. The abuse, which occurred between January and May 2017, consisted of Lamb showing the girl pornography on his phone, touching her vagina and exposing his penis to her and making her touch it, according to court testimony.

Lamb pleaded no contest in 2019 to two felony charges of committing lewd acts on a child. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison and required to register for life as a sex offender. Lamb is currently serving time at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blythe.

In 1998, Lamb was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct for peeking into an inhabited building, according to a United States Department of Justice report. The misdemeanor conviction itself would not have legally precluded Lamb from employment with the district because it did not require him to register as a sex offender.

On Jan. 10, 2012, Lamb applied to become a Lucia Mar bus driver. Lamb checked “no” on the job application when asked whether he had ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor. Handwriting later added to the document states, “not hiring — falsified app.”

On Jan. 23, 2012, Michelle Ellis, Lucia Mar’s assistant superintendent of human resources, wrote a letter to Lamb that a background check revealed he failed to report a conviction from 1998. As a result of his omission or falsely answered statement on his application, the district was unable to employ Lamb, Ellis wrote.

Yet, Lamb submitted a second application, dated April 16, 2012, in which he disclosed his conviction as “misdemeanor trespassing/loitering.” Two days later, Lucia Mar hired him.

During a deposition for a civil case conducted via Zoom in March, Lamb said, on his Jan. 2012 application, he made an omission of a mistake due to the fact he thought it was a sealed record. Later, Lamb admitted he failed to answer the job application question correctly.

His eventual supervisor at Lucia Mar, Sharon Harwin, interviewed Lamb and told him to reapply for the job, he said. During the interview, Lamb told Harwin his 1997 arrest was related to trespassing and loitering. Harwin responded, saying that is not a crime which would prevent employment with the district and told him to reapply for the job, and his application would be pushed through up to human resources, Lamb said.

Also during the deposition, Lamb said he had been convicted of misdemeanor trespassing in 1986. Prosecutors in that case initially tried to get him with a peeping charge, Lamb said.

When asked about his 1997 arrest, Lamb admitted to watching a person undress, but claimed the conviction was for voyeurism, prior to saying it was loitering.

David Ring, an attorney representing Lamb’s victim in a lawsuit against Lucia Mar, said the district failed for three years to hand over a rejection letter that showed Lamb should never have been hired.

The district went out of its way to conceal that Lamb was disqualified from ever working as a bus driver because of lying on his job application about his criminal history, Ring said.

Following the deposition, the district released the letter to the victim’s lawyers. Lucia Mar claims the the letter was missed early in the discovery process in 2018.

Additionally, records show two educators suspected Lamb may have victimized a second student. In letters to a Lucia Mar official, educators at a South County elementary school stated a second special education student from Lamb’s bus route was showing possible signs of trauma. It is unclear how the district responded to the allegation.


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Jon Tatro

They should’ve done a fingerprint criminal background check on him as is the SOP and they would’ve been told what his original arrest charge was.


womanwhohasbeenthere

Besides the obvious mistakes the District made in not checking his records, this is a classic example of the dangers of plea bargaining. In 1986 a peeping charge was reduced to misdemeanor trespassing which had no sexual connotations; and again in 1997 it happened.

Often the DA will load up charges to get a plea bargain, but in this case, and no doubt many others, the general public ends up the loser.


JThomas

Time to file charges against those who hired him. Oh my, just thought, please don’t let them retire and we the taxpayers get to pay them for the rest of their lives.


kayaknut

Now we know why school districts are always needing more money, too pay for all the lawsuits, and yet those responsible are still employed.


gjoralemon

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time LMUSD has failed in protecting students. In 2004, an Arroyo Grande High School track coach was jailed for sex offenses against a high school athlete. In 2020, the district paid out 1.25 million dollars in response to alleged sexual abuse by a Nipomo High School girls wrestling coach. Either district administrators are woefully unprepared for the profound responsibility of protecting our students, or they are simply apathetic. Either is unacceptable. I fear that this pattern may continue without significant internal change at both school site and administrative levels.