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YCUSD Formally Moves Toward Terminating Teacher Accused of Inappropriate Conduct

YUBA CITY -- In a packed room, people who say they've suffered from and complained about long-time Yuba City High School teacher Jim Whiteaker poured out their hearts to their district's governing board.

Here's one account of alleged physical abuse by his hand by Shaneiko Cummins:

"Anxiety and PTSD. I was constantly medicated for two years and had to attend therapy regularly to subdue my symptoms and was ultimately hospitalized because of it. I also had to have surgery on my shoulder, which resulted in permanent scarring."

Isabella Garcia Schmidt took to the podium to praise Whiteaker saying, "He has inspired me to be the best I could be ever since I've known him. Girls in high school twist words, we all know that."

Then there was more anger and frustration from someone who says Whiteaker abused them sexually.

"It's not just girls, it's boys too. And I personally would love to see Mr. Whiteaker sit right there and tell me I'm lying," said a woman named Pantera.

Whiteaker's defenders had more to share as well.

"I have been praying for all the haters. I don't understand why people are so hateful and want to ruin an honest man's life and reputation," said Kelly Gephardt.

Two very different pictures of Whiteaker emerged as the governing board of the Yuba City Unified School District sat down to decide if they would push a recommendation for his termination forward.

At one point, his fellow physical education teachers called out some of the accusers as they themselves stood up for him.

"None of us have ever had any of you girls come to us and say something that would raise a red flag," said teacher Trish Lucich.

The mother of the first alleged victim FOX40 spoke to after Whiteaker was removed from campus chased after the teachers, saying one of them was lying and fully aware of claims her child was videotaped from the waist down by Whiteaker.

Since the latest accusation of sexual abuse by Whiteaker, the YCUSD governing board has been heavily criticized. Some say claims against Whiteaker have been ignored or mishandled by the school and the board for 20 years.

Tuesday night, board president Lonetta Riley addressed that issue.

After decades of students reporting abuse by the now 52-year-old and claiming to have received no support from their school or district, board member action matched their hopes and efforts to fire him will move forward.

As for the latest alleged victim who says he grabbed her rear end on campus, one of her lawyers, Paul Mastiasic, said, "It's difficult. This has been a life-altering event for her."

"This is a problem that's more endemic to the district, not just Mr. Whiteaker. Obviously, there's a bad apple here, but when predators are given the environment to pray that's exactly what they're gonna do," he said.

Mastiastic says his client is considering civil action against both the board and the district.

Whiteaker was not present to hear anything said about him.

After the board's decision, his attorney Roberto Marquez said to FOX40 via a statement:

"The saving grace for Mr. Whitaker is that he will be afforded due process in the administrative hearing and once the 'facts' come out I truly believe that there would not be any substantiation for the allegations against him. What actions Mr. Whitaker took in the incident at issue were very appropriate and sanctioned by the educational code. There is absolutely no sexual misconduct in this case whatsoever."

The hearing process in the case could take six months.