A complaint has been filed by Jessica Pride and The Pride Law Firm against Francis Parker School, San Diego, and three employees: the Headmaster, Head of the Middle School, and Assistant Head of the Middle School. The complaint regards their insufficient response to the inappropriate actions of former teacher and basketball coach, Miguel Cembrano. The details are as follows:
The Alleged Behavior of Teacher and Coach Miguel Cembrano
Plaintiff Grace Winn was a student at Francis Parker School from kindergarten through her senior year. Beginning at the age of 13, she states she was groomed and sexually assaulted by Coach Cembrano. Some of his abusive behavior included:
- “Grooming” behavior which consisted of escalating inappropriate boundary invasions, specifically personal communications, private meetings for extra basketball practice, and “special” touching
- Physical contact that built from prolonged hugs, to massages, to kissing until Cembrano felt bold enough to molest Ms. Winn inside a classroom at Francis Parker School
- Requesting nude photos of Winn after he was fired, which is soliciting child pornography from a minor
Cembrano was fired from Francis Parker School for inappropriate conduct with a student, but he was not reported to Child Protective Services (CPS), nor the local police department, as is mandated by law. Cembrano went on to work at High Tech High charter school in Point Loma, where he was once again under investigation for suspected child sexual abuse. Before he could be questioned, Cembrano committed suicide.
The Reputation and Responsibility of Francis Parker School
Francis Parker School is a high-priced college preparatory school founded in 1912. It holds a prestigious reputation as an elite educational institution. With tuition costs per year per student hovering around $35,000 on average, parents and students expect a high level of care and attention.
Francis Parker School’s mission states that it seeks “to inspire a diverse community of independent thinkers whose academic excellence, global perspective, and strength of character prepare them to make a meaningful difference in the world.” The school’s website promotes its “superior faculty” and “intimate learning environment in which all students are known and valued.”
With student-to-staff ratios between 8:1 and 15:1 in recent years, the expectation is individualized education and a tight-knit trusted community. That was not the reality for adolescent Grace Winn, who was known as a “lifer” at the school because her entire education from K-12 had been under their roof.
The Complaints Against Francis Parker School and Staff
Teachers who sexually abuse their students cause a lifetime of harm. The grooming behavior of Coach Cembrano was blatant and yet went uninterrupted for a prolonged period. The complaints against school administrators at the time seek to expose:
- Missed red flags like private teaching behind closed doors and shut blinds that went unnoticed
- Allowance of flagrant “peer-like behavior” such as linking arms with a young student while escorting her across campus
- A failure to inform parents of the sexually-based nature of the transgressions behind Coach Cembrano’s dismissal
- A breach of their mandatory reporting duties when they did not alert law enforcement or Child Protective Services of a sexual predator who held teaching credentials (which then allowed Cembrano to move to a new school and hunting ground)
- Negligent disregard for the well-being of their students, including Ms. Winn, who was continually harassed with sexual material from Cembrano after he was fired
Francis Parker School institutions and staff are accused of consistently ignoring bad behavior, covering up sexual abuse, and illegally failing to report known sexual misconduct against minor students and children.
Contact Pride Law for Compassionate Legal Help
One man’s crimes against a young girl were made worse by the inaction of Francis Parker School. By neglecting to follow-up with students exposed to Miguel Cembrano’s attentions, they helped facilitate further abuse. By valuing their reputation more than child safety, they failed at their duty to inform parents, police, and CPS of a known predator. They did not even internally adjust their training, policies, or procedures to stop the very same abuse from happening again.
The Pride Law Firm fights for justice for individuals by tackling institutional neglect and abuse. Our action against Francis Parker School features a prime example of how one bad apple is allowed to spread spoil and rot when not removed from the barrel. By holding the school accountable, we help make sure there are no safe harbors for sexual predators.
If you have a complaint against Francis Parker School or any other institution regarding the mishandling of sexual harassment or abuse, contact The Pride Law Firm. We can be reached right away by calling (619) 516-8166 — we are standing ready to hear you, to listen, and to help.