NewsCovering Kern County


Judge issues temporary restraining order stopping KHSD from releasing police disciplinary records

Posted at 9:57 PM, May 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-30 18:48:00-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A temporary restraining order has been put in place by a Kern County judge Thursday, temporarily stopping the Kern High School District from releasing certain disciplinary records from the Kern High School District Police Department.

A request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction was filed in the Kern County Superior Court on May 14 on behalf of former Kern High School District Police Lieutenant Jerald Wyatt.

Wyatt worked for the Kern High School District Police Department starting in 2013. Since May 2017 he has been on the District's re-employment list, according to the Kern High School District. 23ABC asked KHSD what the re-employment list was, but has not heard back.

Court records show this isn't the first lawsuit Wyatt has filed against the Kern High School District. In the other lawsuit, which is still in court proceedings, was filed in March of 2017. In that lawsuit, Wyatt claimed the turmoil the department created health issues, including anxiety and high blood pressure. He and former police chief Joseph Lopeteguy claimed retaliation against them after they notified authorities about possible misuse of a state criminal database to search for the addresses of student athletes.

READ MORE: Kern High School District facing another lawsuit from within police department

In the new claim filed this month, court documents show that Wyatt received a letter from KHSD after April 25, 2019 regarding record requests related to the investigation and discipline of peace officers employed by KHSD Police Department related to SB-1421.

The letter informed Wyatt that during their search of records they located documents from his personnel file that were responsive to the request.

Court documents show that unless Wyatt produced a court-issued protective order stopping the district from releasing those records, they would be released.

However, the court documents claim "The Petitioner [Wyatt] should have no documents within the petitioner's personnel file which would be responsive to such a request."

The court documents show that after filing the initial civil lawsuit against KHSD in 2017, Wyatt looked at his personnel file and found a document in it that he claimed had been placed there in violation of the Public Safety Officers Bill of Rights.

Wyatt's attorney at the time contacted KHSD about the alleged violation. Court documents claim KHSD admitted to violating the procedures and removed the particular documents from Wyatt's file.

Court documents also show that during Wyatt's a background check for a position with the Kern County District Attorney's Office, the background investigator said the particular document was not in Wyatt's personnel file.

Since the court documents claim there should not be any responsive documents in Wyatt's file, Wyatt's attorney is asking for time to prove the records are not supposed to be there. The documents ask that the records not be released by the Kern High School District until there is an "outcome of a hearing related to whether there is, in fact, information in his file which would fall within the scope of 'SB 1421' public records requests."

The claim states, "it has caused great dismay and as there is a real concern that any documents that are inappropriately produced at this juncture will not only have a negative effect on the privacy rights, current employment, and reputation of the Petitioner, but also that the illegitimate production could taint the closely associated civil case moving forward."

23ABC reached out to the Kern High School District for comment on the case and KHSD sent this response:

"The Kern High School District has received multiple public records requests seeking police records under SB 1421. The District has identified documents responsive to a majority of the requests and has attempted to comply with its obligations under the California Public Records Act and SB 1421. Mr. Wyatt has filed a temporary restraining order seeking to preclude the District from producing documents to the requesting parties. The matter will be evaluated by the court and a ruling will be issued."