A day after Los Angeles Unified released two claims accusing him of harassment, school board President Richard Vladovic admitted Tuesday that he'd violated the district's "civility policy" and apologized to employees who'd felt intimidated by him.
Vladovic also said he'd sought "professional help" for anger issues.
"I did get upset at people," he said. "I did tell them things I shouldn't have told them. There's a better way."
The statement, made from the board's dais, followed a four-hour closed-door meeting that insiders said included a tense discussion of the formal complaints and other accusations of misconduct leveled against Vladovic.
"I violated the district's civility policy and it's the board's policy," Vladovic said. "Because I did break it and it was our own policy, I expect to be held accountable."
The San Pedro native said he'd been undergoing therapy for a hot temper that, according to the complaints, created a fearful and hostile work environment among those who worked for him.
"I have been trying very, very hard not to express anger," he said. "I want no employee to feel intimidated because of me. ... In my passion for the district, I have crossed the line, and I intend to never do so again."
Vladovic and the rest of the board members left through a secure exit after the meeting. He did not respond to a request for comment. Other board members also declined to comment.
Before the meeting started, however, Vladovic had an entirely different take on the situation, declaring, "I'm innocent" when a TV reporter pressed him for his reaction to the allegations.
Vladovic then received a kiss on the cheek from fellow board member Marguerite LaMotte, an ardent supporter of the board president. In another surprising twist, LaMotte took a turn during the public comment period to speak directly to Vladovic.
She said she admired his patience and leadership and hoped to continue working with him as board president. She then closed her comments with a quote she includes on each of her emails.
"I shall remain humble as long as I am respected but I shall fight to retain my dignity," she said.
The discussion of Vladovic's actions came during an executive session that listed two cases of "pending litigation." Those apparently were the two redacted complaints released Monday to the Daily News and other media outlets under a California Public Records Act request.
One was a six-page statement from a female employee who detailed eight incidents in which she said Vladovic made sexually inappropriate remarks, told suggestive jokes and used a sexual slur to describe a gay co-worker. The alleged incidents occurred from July 2000 to January 2003, when Vladovic was a local superintendent in the South Bay.
The second complaint was filed by a male employee, who said he'd been "continually punished, harassed and retaliated against by board member Vladovic and his staff," from November 2012 to June 2013.
Board members also received copies of those complaints on Monday, along with the findings of an outside investigation into the allegations. Because that investigation was conducted by a law firm, the report is covered by attorney-client privilege and was not released to the media.
A spokesman for Vladovic has said that investigators determined the allegations were "inactionable," but he was unable to elaborate.
There had been speculation before the closed-door meeting that the board might try to strip Vladovic of the presidency or issue a public censure reprimanding Vladovic for his actions. There was no vote and Vladovic opted instead for the public statement about the board's "civility policy."
He was apparently referring to a provision of the school board's rules, enacted in 2006, which states, "Members shall govern in a dignified and professional manner, treating everyone with civility and respect, and shall understand the implications of demeanor and behavior."