LOS ANGELES — A substitute teacher who attempted to sue a school district must pay nearly $14,000 in attorney fees for the region’s fight against him.  

In an opinion delivered by Associate Justices Elwood Lui, Victoria Gerrard Chaney and Jeffrey W. Johnson, the California Second District Court of Appeal affirmed that former substitute teacher Ronald Anderson Sr. must pay attorney fees for the school district he attempted to sue over racial and gender discrimination and invasion of privacy.

In Anderson v The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the teacher represented himself and esquires Alexander Molina and Marcos F. Hernandez defended the district. After the trial court struck down Anderson’s First Amendment complaint with seven actions against LAUSD, the former substitute fought the trial court’s order to pay attorney fees for what was inevitably branded an anti-SLAPP lawsuit.

As a certified substitute instructor since 1997, Anderson’s employment was never questioned until 2011, when he oversaw a fourth-grade class at Bradley Elementary School. According to the classroom supervisor of 14 years, who claimed he managed thousands of students, he witnessed some female students exhibiting questionable emotional and mental behavior when he called roll.  

Anderson claimed the day became frantic due to said students’ behavior and being left without a lesson plan from the regular teacher. By end of the school session, Anderson made unwelcome comments to the female students about their red holiday dresses. Anderson was called to Principal Genevieve Shepherd’s office, were he claimed he was “confronted by a standing-room only group of estrogen-laden females of various three ages,” and that he was “the only person in this unlawful assembly bearing testosterone,” according to the order. 

He argued to no avail that the principal's intentions were malicious and unlawful, and within a week, Anderson was given an Inadequate Service Report from Shepherd. Anderson filed a grievance against the report. Furthermore, he charged racial discrimination and gender discrimination against LAUSD, as well as an invasion of privacy against Shepherd for allowing LAUSD attorneys to review his personal information from an unconnected case.

Because the trial court considered the case under the anti-SLAPP provisions, “the burden shifted to Anderson to demonstrate a probability of prevailing on his claims, which he could not,” according to the order that deemed the defendant's proceedings lawful as there was a need to investigate student complaints.

The trial court demanded Anderson pay fees for LAUSD, but he contended he was not responsible under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. His argument ultimately failed since the fees were made pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute, according to the trial court, which passed the bill onto Anderson in the amount of $13,822.  

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