A criminal charge is being sought against the most recent interim Kern High School District police chief who was put on leave earlier this month.
Kern County Assistant District Attorney Scott Spielman confirmed that the Bakersfield Police Department recommended an eavesdropping charge against interim KHSD Chief David Edmiston on Nov. 3.
The DA's office is still deciding whether to pursue the charge, which is considered a "wobbler," meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
Though the charge is known eavesdropping, it involves using an electronic device to illegally record someone without his or her knowledge or consent.
Edmiston served less than two months as acting chief. Superintendent Bryon Schaefer placed Edmiston on administrative leave Oct. 19, though the district refused to say why.
Ed Komin, a district police officer, was appointed acting chief, KHSD spokeswoman Lisa Krch said. He's the third chief to serve in the last five months.
Edmiston’s listed phone number has been disconnected and he could not be reached for comment. Before his appointment, Edmiston joined KHSD's police department in January after serving 28 years in high-ranking positions with the Kern County Sheriff's Office. His final rank was commander.
Edmiston took the reins of the district’s 22-member police force Aug. 22 after Lopeteguy, who'd reported that high-level administrators had been misusing a sensitive police information database to run background checks on students and staff members, went on stress leave.
At least one of those staff members had filed a worker’s compensation claim against the district and the child was in special education, according to reports filed by the Kern County Sheriff's Office, to which Lopeteguy had brought his concerns.
Sheriff’s officials recommended criminal charges against former KHSD Police Chief Mike Collier and Director of Pupil Personnel Otis Jennings. The District Attorney’s office declined to press charges, citing an expired statute of limitations and insufficient evidence.
Lopeteguy was placed on leave during the middle of the sheriff's investigation. He was reinstated in early August, went on a medical stress leave, and then filed a $2.2 million claim against the high school district alleging retaliation.
In the wake of the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System scandal, KHSD has hired a third-party investigator with no price ceiling, contracted with a consulting group to advise the district’s police force on best practices, and given Superintendent Bryon Schaefer “civilian oversight” of the department.
— Staff writer Harold Pierce contributed to this report.