Employee back to work, investigation over after Tehachapi school staff allegedly killed animals

TEHACHAPI - Former school district employees are questioning the results of a recent animal abuse investigation conducted by the Tehachapi Unified School District.

Both the school district and Kern County District Attorney's office began investigating reports that Robert Hutton, a district maintenance worker, was killing cats and other animals by suffocating them in a wooden box, using gas canisters, on district property.

According to a statement provided to 23ABC, the district investigation did not find that supervisors had directed employees to engage in the inhumane treatment of animals. Still, school board president Mary Graham said the investigation did confirm that the box was used to kill animals on district property.

"Maybe it was insensitive, I won't deny that, but it is an issue for the safety of our campuses and that's how we're going to view it," Graham told 23ABC.

Graham said the district has struggled in dealing with nuisance animals for more than 20 years. 

It is unclear what penalties, if any, Hutton will face.

Susan Ormsby, a former teacher, spoke out against the animal abuse allegations at last month's school board meeting. She believes maintenance supervisors instructed employees to carry out the killings.

The District Attorney's office told 23ABC that a separate investigation is ongoing.

23ABC reached out to Superintendent Lisa Gilbert for comment on this story but haven't heard back. 

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