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San Diego Education
LeBlanc v. Poway Unified School District
> > >
Poway's attorney Jeffery
Morris does not say
whether there was
discussion about
getting rid of the
Jury awards teen $25,000 for incident at Rose Parade
By Alex Roth
November 22, 2002

A jury awarded $25,000 yesterday to a Rancho Bernardo High School baritone player
who was throttled by the school's
band director after the boy showed up wearing orange socks for the 2001 Tournament
of Roses Parade.

A lawyer for 16-year-old Travis LeBlanc, who quit the school's marching band after the
incident, said the boy wore
orange socks that day because he lost his regulation white ones. A lawyer for the
school said the teen-ager was playing a

In its verdict, the San Diego Superior Court jury found band director Tom Cole
and the Poway Unified School District liable for intentional and negligent
infliction of emotional distress.

According to testimony, Cole noticed the boy's orange socks, grabbed him by the
throat, shook him back and forth and
yelled, "I ought to wring your (expletive) neck."

"There's a no-violence policy at the school and it should hold for teachers as well as
students," said the boy's mother,
Keri LeBlanc, a nurse practitioner at Children's Hospital in Kearny Mesa.

Jeffery Morris, a lawyer for the district, wouldn't comment yesterday on
whether Cole, who is still the school's band director, was ever disciplined.
said Cole overreacted to a prank that was uncovered "minutes before they were
getting ready to step into the parade and onto national television."

"There were some issues with this young man in terms of his attitude and
performance and there was discussion of him leaving the band before this
ever happened," Morris said.

[Maura Larkins' note: Did the boy consider leaving the band because of an
abusive teacher?]

The teen-ager was 14 at the time and is now a senior. His lawyer, Bob Fuselier, said
the boy's mother decided to sue only after the school refused to apologize.

"It really came down to the fact that they wouldn't do anything or say they were sorry,"
Fuselier said.

Fuselier said the boy had a limited choice of footwear after discovering his white
uniform socks missing that morning.

The band, the Royal Regiment, wears blue and white uniforms.
Being chosen to march in the annual parade on New Year's Day in Pasadena is a
major honor for a high school band,
guaranteeing national exposure.

"He had a choice – wear no socks, or wear the orange socks he got for Christmas,"
Fuselier said.

At trial, Fuselier asked for $150,000, saying the boy suffered such emotional trauma
that he quit the band and no longer
plays an instrument. The boy suffered no major physical damage.

Alex Roth: (619) 542-4558; alex.roth@uniontrib.com
Music teacher assaults teenager

Instead of apologizing, school has lawyer Jeffery Morris smear the victim.  If the
teenager had committed the attack, he probably would have been expelled.

Which looks worse at the Rose Parade: a kid wearing orange
socks or a teacher assaulting a student?
LeBlanc case is
headed back to
court in 2008
Poway Unified lawsuits
Lindsey Stewart
Emily Shieh
Poway Unified
Rancho Bernardo High
District lawyer--Dan
District attacks students
who changed grades
[An article that used to be in
this spot has apparently been
hacked.  I apologize that I am
unable to find a copy of the
article.  Poway's lawyers, Stutz
Artiano Shinoff & Holtz are
suing me for defamation, but I
trust they are not responsible
for the hacking.]
The San Diego Reader
Blog by Jay Allen Sanford
March 21, 2008

Rancho Bernardo High School
band student Trevor LeBlanc
presented a much more
convincing case for his own
“emotional distress.” In his civil
lawsuit against the Poway
Unified School District and RBHS
band director Tom Cole,
LeBlanc contended that Cole
yelled at him and assaulted him
for wearing the wrong color
socks at the 2001 Tournament
of Roses Parade, reportedly
pulling him out of formation and
saying "I ought to wring your
[expletive] neck" and "I want to
bash in your [expletive] face."

Then 16 years old, the student
claimed the band director
grabbed his throat, shaking him
back and forth and pulling his
instrument, a baritone horn, out
of his hands. After the incident,
LeBlanc quit the Rancho
Bernardo High School band.

During the civil trial, associate
RBHS band director Gary
Horimoto testified that he saw
Cole shake LeBlanc’s shoulders
and pull the boy from the line
formation, but he hadn’t seen
Cole grab the student’s neck or
swear at him. In November 2002,
a jury found the youth’s
“emotional and physical
distress” to be worth $25,000.00
in damages, because Cole was
negligent when he grabbed
LeBlanc and yelled at him for
wearing orange socks.

The actual band colors are blue
and white.
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Case Number D041750
03/10/2003  Notice of appeal lodged/received.  
Filed February 18, 2003 by

03/10/2003  Appellate package sent.  

03/17/2003  Notice of appeal lodged/received.  Filed March 10, 2003 amended notice of appeal by

03/17/2003  Civil case information statement filed.  

03/18/2003  Default re: 4(b) rprts fees not deposited rcvd. dtd.  March 14, 2003

03/27/2003  Notice to reporter to prepare transcript.  Lezlie Hamrick-Smith: 11/1/02; Jim Partridge:
11/14/02; Marvel
McDonald: 11/18,19,20/02

04/08/2003  Transcript fees paid.  

06/11/2003  RECORD ON APPEAL FILED.************  One Clerk's and 5 Reporters.

07/11/2003  APPELLANT'S OPENING BRIEF.  Attorney: Fuselier, Lowell Robert
Party: LeBlanc, Travis

08/04/2003  Granted - extension of time.  Respondents granted to 9-25-03 to file RB
Attorney: Shinoff, Daniel Party: Cole, Thomas Attorney: Shinoff,
Daniel Party: Poway Unified School District

09/19/2003  Granted - extension of time.  Attorney: Shinoff, Daniel
Party: Cole, Thomas
Attorney: Shinoff, Daniel
Party: Poway Unified School District
Respondents granted to October 24, 2003 to file respondents brief.

10/21/2003  Motion/application to augment record filed.  By respondent. Opposition due November
4, 2003.

10/22/2003  Granted - extension of time.  Attorney:
Shinoff, Daniel ---Final Extension !!!!!
Party: Cole, Thomas
Attorney: Shinoff, Daniel
Party: Poway Unified School District
Respondents granted to November 24, 2003 to file respondents' brief.

11/06/2003  Augmentation granted. (See order.)  Augment due 30 days from date fees are paid.

11/19/2003  Notice to reporter to prepare transcript.  Marvel McDonald - 2/28/03

11/24/2003  RESPONDENT'S BRIEF.  Attorney: Shinoff, Daniel
Party: Cole, Thomas
Attorney: Shinoff, Daniel
Party: Poway Unified School District

12/16/2003  Granted - extension of time.  Attorney: Fuselier, Lowell Robert
Party: LeBlanc, Travis
Appellant granted to February 16, 2004 to file reply brief.

12/16/2003  CASE FULLY BRIEFED.  

12/16/2003  Oral argument waiver notice sent.  12-26-03

11/18/2003  Transcript fees paid.  augment

01/14/2004  Reporter default letter sent.  McDonald

01/20/2004  Augmented record filed.  One Reporter's

01/20/2004  Filed document entitled:  Notice of Firm Name Change

01/23/2004  On March calendar.  

02/11/2004  APPELLANT'S REPLY BRIEF.  Attorney: Fuselier, Lowell Robert
Party: LeBlanc, Travis

02/18/2004  Oral argument waiver notice sent.  3-1-04

03/17/2004  Submission order filed.  

04/27/2004  Opinion filed.  Judgment reversed and remanded for further proceedings consistent
with the views we have expressed. Appellant to recover his costs
of appeal. Benke, J., McConnell, PJ., O'Rourke, J.

06/07/2004  Petition for review in Supreme Court received.  respondent

06/07/2004  Record transmitted to Supreme Court.  

07/14/2004  Petition for review denied in Supreme Court.  order rec'd. this court 7/21/04
miscellaneous Poway cases

Schools and Violence
Violent teacher defended
by PUSD:
LeBlanc v. PUSD

LeBlanc v. PUSD web page
(blog post)
Student cheating scandal

Is PUSD depraved?
Lindsey Stewart case

Lindsey Stewart Blog post
Poway Unified School District
hazing, special education
Poway Unifed blog posts
Donovan case
Baseball recruiting scandal
Another student
assaulted by staff in

Poway High
sues RBHS principal,
school district
May 2, 2005

VISTA ---- A Poway High School
student has filed a lawsuit alleging
the principal and an assistant
principal at Rancho Bernardo High
School assaulted and battered him at
a basketball game between the two

Mario DiNunzio, described in the
lawsuit as an 18-year-old who was a
minor and a Poway High student at
the time of the alleged incident, is
seeking an unspecified amount of
money from the Poway Unified
School District, Rancho Bernardo
High School Principal Jeffrey King,
and Robert Speights, an assistant
principal at the school...

The school district's The school
district's district's attorney, Daniel
Shinoff, Daniel Shinoff, who said the
school administrators have a "very,
very different perspective" about
what happened.

"I believe that when the facts come
out, it will be very much different than
what the family believes occurred,"
Shinoff, who declined to
comment further on the case.

The lawsuit alleges that King and
Speights confronted DiNunzio when
he entered the gym and told him to

King and Speights then questioned
DiNunzio and kept him from leaving,
the lawsuit alleges...

The lawsuit alleges King and
Speights grabbed DiNunzio by his
clothes and threw him to the ground
"without provocation." The force of the
alleged battery caused DiNunzio's
back to hit a drinking fountain, the
lawsuit alleges.
02/29/08 09:00AM C-75   
Strauss, Richard E. L.         
Civil Jury Trial
GIC 777812
D)THOMAS [TOM] COLE         
How can we expect adults in
schools to stop bullying by
students when those
administrators, and their
lawyers--refuse to follow the
rules against abuse of others?
Similar story:
Family Claims Football Coach Injured Boy
By Diana Guevara
Oct 4, 2012

Tamara Hansel tells NBC 7 reporter Diana Guevara that a football coach for the San
Marcos Pop Warner Football League allegedly harmed her son.

A mother has filed a restraining order against a youth football coach after she claims
her son was injured by him.

Tamara Hansel’s 10-year-old son began playing with the San Marcos Pop Warner
Football League last month. She claims when the boys began misbehaving, Coach
Greg Stephens singled her son out and caused assault injuries to her boy.

“When he got to our son he grabbed him by the front of his chest plate, dug his fingers
into his neck and shook him front to back side to side very roughly,” Hansel said.
“Which left my son with whiplash and a concussion. He's actually been out of sports
now for three weeks.”

Hansel and her husband took their son to the hospital after he began vomiting, she
said. Then they called the police and on Sept. 14 they filed a restraining order.
Hansel said her husband, Dan Hoffman, argued with the coach just days before the
incident, saying that he was punishing his son too hard by making him run too many
laps in the heat.

“He has specifically said I will punish your son for your actions he was speaking to my
husband,” she said. “Then this happened the following Sunday.”

NBC 7 San Diego tried to reach Stephens, who is also the current president of the Pop
Warner Football League, but he has not returned any phone calls.

Court documents show his response to the allegations, where he defends his coaching.
"I don't find either one of these activities to be punishing as football requires running,
strength and mental awareness,” court documents state. “I am not a coach who strives
on punishment.”

Hansel says her son has since been switched to another football team within Pop
Warner and that they still come in contact with Stephens. She said Stephens has to
remain at least 25 feet away from her and her son.

There are no criminal charges pending at this time.
San Diego Education Report
San Diego
Education Report