Covina school superintendent under investigation for alleged misconduct, police say

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Protesters rally in support of Covina Valley School District Superintendent Richard Sheehan on May 17, 2020, in Covina. Sheehan was accused of misconduct involving students, according to police.

Protesters rally in support of Covina Valley School District Superintendent Richard Sheehan on May 17, 2020, in Covina. Sheehan was accused of misconduct involving students, according to police.

The superintendent of the Covina Valley Unified School District is under a preliminary police investigation after being accused of misconduct with students, authorities said Monday.

But some in the San Gabriel community are rallying behind him.

Richard Sheehan remains under investigation in connection with allegations involving three current and former students, the Covina Police Department said Monday. A day earlier, dozens gathered at the Covina Field District parking lot for a drive-by protest in support of Sheehan, honking car horns and waving signs with phrases like “I Stand With Sheehan.”

Police have not said whether the allegations against Sheehan are sexual in nature or released any other details. Administrative staff at the district reached out to the Covina Police Department to report their internal investigation, authorities said.

The Covina Police Department said it is “aware of ongoing employment talks between CVUSD and Dr. Sheehan,” and has asked the Glendora Police Department to take over the investigation.

“Our intent is to ensure a thorough and transparent investigation by law enforcement,” Covina police said in a statement.

On Monday evening, the school board met and was scheduled to discuss potential discipline or dismissal. However, the board announced after a closed session that it would not make a decision Monday evening regarding Sheehan’s employment.

According to Los Angeles Daily News, the district’s assistant superintendent, Michele Doll, left a voicemail for parents indicating the district was aware of “serious allegations against an employee” made in social media posts. She did not identify the employee involved.

Covina Police Capt. David Povero told the newspaper the investigation into Sheehan goes beyond just the social media posts.

A call to Glendora police asking for further details was not returned Monday evening.

Meanwhile, some have rallied behind the superintendent as he remains under investigation.

Signatures were piling onto a change.org petition titled “#WeStandWithSheehan – Stop C-VUSD Board – Save Dr. Sheehan” Monday evening, gathering more than 3,100 by 9 p.m. A Facebook page in his support bears the name “Save Dr Sheehan.”

At the rally on Sunday, district employees, parents and others voiced their support.

“These board members need to go!” a woman at the Sunday rally shouted into a loudspeaker, followed by cheers of protesters.

She suggested the allegations against Sheehan are false and come as the result of clashes between a union and the school board.

“I think they have an axe to grind because they were embarrassed and exposed by our union,” said the woman, who did not give her name. “They can’t go after our union so they’re going after Dick.”

“Unfortunately, Dick has to pay the price when clearly that’s not what the community wants,” she said, gesturing toward those gathered at the lot.

David Bonilla, a former school board member, said Sheehan has been a “huge supporter of the Covina kids, district and community for a really long time.”

“This is really, really just sad what we’re going through right now,” Bonilla said.

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