Report of Findings--Lassen Union High School District
Susanville Elementary School District, W. T. Pratt, et. al.
State of California Department of Education
To: Roger Wolfertz, Staff Counsel Date: May 31, 1989
From: Reuben A. Burton, Manager (5-9482)
Intergroup Relations Office
Subject: W.T. PRATT/LASSEN UNION HIGH
SCHOOL DISTRICT: REPORT
Attached is our Report of Findings in regard to the investigation
into the use of racial slurs by Edward Frank Murin. As you will
see from our Report the issues do not seem to be limited to
My office has been contacted recently by various representatives of
the A.P., U.P., Sacramento Bee, Channel 12 in Chico, Senator
Doolittle's staff, from the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and
by the Pratts for copies of the report. It's not clear to me if we are
compelled under 22 CCR 98348 to provide copies upon written
request at this time. Doubtless, you have the answer to that.
What is the next step? How can I be of help?
Report of Findings
Lassen Union High School District
Susanville Elementary School District
W. T. Pratt, et. al.
Intake Date: March 17, 1988
Discrimination based on ethnic group identification,
color and sex. Specifically, it is alleged that Edward Frank
Murin uses sexual, ethnic and racial slurs in reference to
American Indian and black students (and sexual slurs
against a specific student) as part of his teaching and
coaching duties in these two school districts, e.g., "We
could use a little nigger on our team", "I don't know where
he gets that double pump nigger crap", "Murin called our
son a homosexual in front of 15-20 football players at the
Lassen High School gym", "Mr. Murin walked by and called
him (the student) a fruitcake", "Why don't you (Indian students)
give us a rain dance?", "Why don't you go over there and
pile up some sticks and grass and dance around it for us?"
W. T. Pratt, DDS & (wife) Janice Pratt
710 Mill Street
Susanville, CA. 96130
Marshall S. Leve, Jr., District Superintendent
Susanville Elementary School District (K-8; E: 1,115)
Lassen Union High School District (9-12; E: 965)
Anthony F. Miscione, former Lassen Union
High School Principal
John Kingston, Athletic Director
Ed Lombardi, former Head Coach: football,
Lassen Union High School
William Ellena, current Head Coach: football
Lassen High School (9-12; E: 965)
1110 Main Street
Susanville, CA 96130
Jud Jensen, Principal
Edward Frank Murin, Teacher/Coach
Diamondview Elementary School (5-8; E: 440)
850 Richmond Road
Susanville, CA 96130
William Gillaspie, Lassen County Superintendent of Schools
472-013 Johnstonville Road, North
Susanville, CA 96130
Edward Frank Murin is a California credentialed teacher at
Diamondview Elementary School in the Susanville Elementary
School District. Mr. Murin is also a "walk-on" varsity boys
basketball coach and an assistant football coach at Lassen
High School in the Lassen Union High School District.
Mr. Murin is a lifelong resident of Susanville and a former
student in these two School Districts. He is alleged through oral
testimony and written affidavits to have exhibited violent, felonious
and unlawfully discriminatory behavior throughout his boyhood,
school matriculation, his seventeen-year-teaching and eleven-year
coaching tenure under the common administration of the Lassen
Union High School and Susanville Elementary School Districts.
Susanville, with a population of 7,000, is the governmental seat
of Lassen County. This has pertinence in that the County
Superintendent of Schools also is located there. Given that it is
a relatively small community the professional, social, service
organization memberships, and recreational contacts and
communication tend to operate very effectively. Therefore, all
levels of civic administration and law enforcement have had
sufficient knowledge of the substantial issues in the totality of
Murin's alleged misbehaviors.
Approximately 35 people were interviewed either in person or by
telephone for the purposes of this investigation. They range in
background and age from the retired administrative law judge
who served as a private consultant in this matter to the Lassen
Union High School Board, current and former Lassen High
School Board members, the Superintendent of the two school
districts in question, Mr. Murin, his attorney, California
Interscholastic Federation (CIF) and athletic league officials,
parents, students, former classmates and former faculty
Many of the above who wished to give background or testimony
against Mr. Murin, spoke about Murin's obscenities directed at
specific students e.g., "You fucking idiot"; "You stupid fucking
dummy" and of his psychological and emotional abuses of
children in specific instances.
A former classmate of Murin's testified that she had witnessed
and then assailed Murin for forcing her retarded younger brother
to pick up with his mouth and eat the popcorn that Murin had
thrown on the floor of the high school corridor.
Another incident in the testimony by an American Indian man who
is currently a faculty member of the local community college, is
that as a high school student Murin assaulted him at age eight or
ten by pouring whiskey down his throat to amuse himself and his
two or three high school friends one night when the younger boys
were attempting a first camp-out on the front lawn at the home of
one of his Anglo playmates.
A recent Indian student of Murin's at Diamondview Elementary
School testified to his ridicule of her by repeatedly calling her a
fat slob eventually driving her from the school. In a similar, but
fatal, incident it is alleged by her parents that Mr. Murin's
unrelenting ridicule and humiliation of her obesity was a key
factor cited in the girl's suicide.
Board of Trustees Knowledge of Murin's Misconduct
In the spring of 1988 the Lassen Union High School Board of
Trustees hired a private consultant to hear the various
complaints which community members and parents had brought
forward in addition to the Pratt complaint. This consultant, a
retired administrative law judge, reported April 24, 1988 to the
Board of Trustees of the Lassen Union High School District the
following "Findings of Fact" in regard to Murin:
. Resorts to tactics and language which, on innumerable
occasions, went beyond the limits of permissibility.
. Respondent's conduct was tolerated by his superiors,
his peers and most of his students.
. Parents and students who were offended chose to
remain silent for fear of Murin's retaliation.
. When it became known that Dr. and Mrs. Pratt were
actually going to pursue an effort to compel an
official inquiry into Murin's conduct, a considerable
number of students and parents decided to come
forward and to give evidence of their own experiences.
. Among fellow teachers and fellow coaches Murin's lack
of self discipline in language and physical behavior
is either ignored or considered permissible.
. Many (fellow) coaches agreed that Murin was
foul-mouthed on many occasions.
. On several occasions in the past few years, individual
complaints were lodged with the Board, and at times
with high-ranking staff members. Aside from one written
reprimand, no formal action was ever taken against
. ...the kicking of the clipboard (by Murin) was
intentional and serves as an example of
Respondent's conduct when he became angry.
. It was established that Respondent (Murin) used the
term "nigger" in the presence of student athletes.
. Respondent (Murin) admitted to his referring to a
student as a "homo" because of the student's
attire for which, when forced to, Murin apologized
in an off-hand way.
. Respondent's conduct on this occasion was
excessively rough and therefore, inappropriate.
. In regard to the bus incident:
1. Murin's conduct was clearly excessive, and
thus provides another example, of the
intemperance triggered by his intense
2. It is found that, quite to the contrary, (of
Murin's testimony) Respondent created
the crisis and the attendant dangers,
and neither he nor any of the other adult
participants deserve credit for averting a
more serious incident.
. It is found that Murin verbally and physically abused
Stacy Miller during early football practice by pulling
him by the face mask, by swearing and shouting
obscenities at him and by belittling him. As a result,
Stacy Miller quit the team before the season began.
. In the Hearing Officer's (Rudolf H. Michaels, a
private consultant to the Lassen Union High School
Board of Trustees) considered opinion, it is extremely
doubtful that, based on the evidence presented here, a State
Administrative Law Judge or a Commission on Professional
Competence would order the outright termination of the
Respondent's employment by the District.
This opinion of Mr. Michaels will be spoken to in a later section
of this report.
Interview of Mr. Murin
Also included in this Report of Findings is correspondence from
Edward J. Lynn, MD, MA, F.A.P.A. Medical Director, Life Stress
Services, Carson-Tahoe Hospital, Carson City, Nevada. This
correspondence is further evidence that the Lassen Union High
School Board of Trustees and Superintendent Leve have been
sufficiently apprised by competent authority of the likelihood that
Mr. Murin was engaging in behavior that is clearly abusive.
Pertinent language in this review by Dr. Lynn, a board certified
"Assuming that the allegations raised in the documents I
reviewed are factual, it would appear that Mr. Murin has not
been able to make the distinction between tough coaching and
abuse. The affidavits describe behavior that was clearly
abusive to the children in the coach's charge. Neither verbal
nor physical abuse has ever been supported as useful
pedagogic techniques in training our youth. Quite to the
contrary, these traumatic insulting, demeaning and punishing
interventions by a teacher/coach are likely to provoke
significant negative psychological sequelae."
"In my own community. I would be bound by State Law to report
such indicators of child abuse to the authorities. I would be
pleased to respond to any questions members of the Board
might have regarding my clinical opinion."
Having this correspondence, they were compelled by the California
Penal Code to report such suspected child abuse to the appropriate
agency. No such action, nor any appropriate action was taken by this
School Board or by Superintendent Leve.
As background, some of the allegations about Mr. Murin's abusive
behavior were discussed with him in the presence of his attorney,
Mr. Craig Kellison in Susanville, California on Tuesday, November
22, 1989 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. approximately.
While Mr. Murin denies being a racist, it was pointed out for
him that the allegations dealt not with his being a racist but
with specific racial slurs by him, which he did not deny when
given that opportunity.
In response to allegations of his obscenities, he denied ever
having used language like that, avowing instead that he is a
"good Christian who goes to church every Sunday." Moments
later Mr. Murin's attorney asserted that Mr. Murin had not used
such obscenities or other abuses since 1986.
Interview of Rudolf H. Michaels
Mr. Michaels is a retired State Administrative Law Judge in
private practice. He served as a consultant to the Lassen Union
High School District in the spring of 1988 "merely to hear the
Pratt complaint but not to investigate any of the allegations
about Mr. Murin." Mr. Michaels had knowledge of the twenty-two
(22) signed affidavits but reported during the interview that he
had never read them. When questioned as to what authority
governed his actions in Susanville, Michaels indicated that he
was merely a consultant to the Board of Trustees of the high
school district without a specific assignment or objective. His
activity in these proceedings however, gave the seeming
appearance of official court action. That is, he ruled on a
dismissal motion and again on a motion to limit the scope of the
hearing by Murin's attorney, engaged a court reporter to record
testimony, swore witnesses, issued gag orders to witnesses
and to the complainants; and, solely by fiat, denied to the
complainants effective access to his report of findings by
stamping each page of the report "Confidential." Michaels'
response to his legal authority was that he had none; he was
"plowing new ground." On the expressed or implied
restraint of access to his report of findings, his response was,
"All you have to do is buy a stamp and pad and stamp it
Interview with Marshall S. Leve
Superintendent Leve categorically denies the alleged
misconduct of Murin on the one hand and on the other
demonstrated for the purpose of the interview how a single
muttered, barely audible obscenity by Murin was being blown
out of proportion by the Pratts alleging that they
themselves were on a personal vendetta against Mr. Murin.
Leve either refused to provide or alternatively failed to
find and produce documentary evidence that Murin's
behavior was under the scrutiny and/or control of either
school district where Murin is employed both, of which Leve
superintends. Leve stated that Murin's part-time employment
in all its aspects as a coach in two sports at the high school
is the sole province of the Board of Trustees. He stated
further that the Board had, in an action item of their agenda,
required an evaluation of Murin's behavior. Leve stated that
he assigned John Kingston, Athletic Director to this task.
Leve reported that Kingston did nothing to evaluate Murin's
behavior because the assignment was "too vague".
When told by Leve that no evaluation of Murin was done
because the requirement was "too vague," the Board,
as reported by Leve, accepted that and let the matter drop.
Leve is of the opinion that Mr. Murin's conduct is not the
problem. Rather, the problem is that Dr. and Mrs. Pratt
have complained unfairly about Mr. Murin's alleged
Hearing Officer Michaels' recommendations and his
"considered opinion" are not based on his investigation
into the background or behavior of Mr. Murin, a fact
which Michaels himself reported during the Intergroup
Relations Office investigation. The "consideration"
upon which his opinion and recommendations are based
cannot be existing law or he would have advised his
employers of their potential jeopardy under the reporting
requirements for child abuse. His "consideration" cannot
be based on child welfare or child benefit as his moderate
recommendations to the Lassen Union High School Board
of Trustees do not speak to the protection of the physical,
mental, moral or psychological well-being of the children
whom they purport to serve. One is at a loss to
discover the "consideration" of his considered opinion.
The behaviors and the teaching and coaching methods of
Edward Frank Murin are heinous. These grossly reprehensible
behaviors and methods as reported and as are adjudged to
be used by Mr. Murin in his daily conduct as a teacher and
athletic coach are of long standing and are widely known
in the Susanville lay and professional communities.
A particularly reprehensible fact of Mr. Murin's pedagogical
method is to control children in his classroom and in athletic
training by selecting a single unknowing child from the group
to be his "whipping boy" then to vilify and humiliate that
girl or boy relentlessly as his announced means to control
the remainder of the children. "Then the rest of the kids fall
in line automatically." In this, Murin offends against all of
humanity in a way that cannot be proportioned for its enormity
and for its lasting effects both on victims and witnesses..
It is axiomatic and fundamental that each of us bears
individual responsibility for his/her behavior. Therefore,
the consequences for Murin's adjudged, not alleged misconduct
over the years would in other communities be inescapable
for him and for those who have the legislated responsibility
for the protection of children and youth in California. However,
this community from its school boards, all levels of law
enforcement, individual school district administrators and
coaches at all levels and the county schools office
administration have had personal and/or direct knowledge
of Murin's offenses against the children and youth of this
community and against the teaching profession but have
done nothing of substance either to bring Mr. Murin under
subordination or to attempt to rehabilitate him. Therefore,
under the child abuse statutes of the Penal Code of the
State of California all must share equally in the
consequences for Murin's continued misconduct. They are
hereby named additionally as individual respondents
in this investigation.
Mr. Murin's misconduct on certain issues is confirmed
and adjudged by the private consultant hired by the
Lassen Union High School Board of Trustees.
No action was ever taken by the Board or administration in
spite of these glaring findings and the very timid
recommendations drawn from them. One is forced to
conclude that children in Susanville are at risk but that
the system which protects him and itself is sacrosanct.
The Lassen Union High School Board of Trustees' own hearing
officer and this investigation find probable cause to believe that
violations of child abuse and the unlawful discrimination
statutes of the State of California have been committed by
the parties referred to in this report.
Edward Frank Murin and the Lassen Union High School District
and the Susanville Elementary School District have violated
California Government Code Section 11135, 22 CCR 98101
(a) (b) (c) (g) (i) and 22 CCR 98313 and 98314.
The Lassen Union High School Board of Trustees for the
period in question, the Susanville Elementary School
District Board of Trustees for the period in question, the
County Superintendent of Schools, all appropriate
leadership levels of local and county law enforcement,
the Superintendent of the two school districts in question,
and each as individuals of the administration and
coaching staff of the two school districts in question are
in violation of the reporting requirements for child abuse
under the California Penal Code.
1. Forward this Report of Findings to Roger Wolfertz,
Staff Counsel, California State Department of
Education as directed.
2. File an accusation under 22 CCR 98347 and proceed under
Government Code Section 11136 to a public hearing
pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 5 (commencing with
Section 11500) of this part to determine if a violation has
occurred and to address fairly the larger issues which are
outside the purview of the required investigation under the
unlawful discrimination statutes of the State of California.
Return to Who's Behind the Whistle? at www.nospank.net/whistle.htm
Return to Project NoSpank Table of Contents at www.nospank.net/toc.htm