Berryessa Union School District Settles Sexual Abuse Lawsuits for over $10 million

According to the law firm of Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, the Berryessa Union School District has settled sexual abuse lawsuits with three former students for a total of $10,335,000.00 million. The settlement relates to sexual abuse perpetrated more than two decades ago by former Sierramont science teacher Ronald Gardner.

Gardner began abusing students during the late 1990s, engaging in sexual acts with male students including sexual intercourse and instructing students to have sex with each other in his classroom. He was arrested in April 2021, almost twenty years after resigning amidst a police investigation that did not result in charges back then. Gardner pled guilty in 2023 to sexually abusing 4 students. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

“After over two decades of suffering in silence, I feel like I’ve reached a level of vindication,” John Doe 3 said. “Although I have a lot of work left ahead in order to heal, I feel like I have been given back the control I lost as a young child.”

“This experience has been extremely difficult, forced me to relive my trauma and taken years of my life away,” John Doe 1 stated. “The compensation I’ve received, in my opinion, is a moot point. There is no amount of money that will make up for abuse I endured and how that changed the trajectory of my life. If I’ve learned anything it’s that this is yet another example of our governmental institutions failing to protect kids and more evidence of our justice system skewed against victims.”

Despite being reprimanded early on in his career after a parent complained about Gardner making sexual innuendos to students, Gardner instead was praised with a glowing evaluation and award. Numerous other red flag grooming behaviors were evident, including a teacher witnessing Gardner kiss a student on the cheek.

“If Gardner had been adequately supervised and appropriate action taken against him early on, these boys would have been spared from the lifelong harm caused by the abuse,” attorney Lauren Cerri said.

Gardner was hired in 1996 without a teaching credential. He remained in his role as a science teacher until the end of the 2002-2003 school years, relying on consistently renewed emergency permits due to his lack of credential. Under California law, a teacher serving on an emergency permit must be paired with an experienced educator for guidance and assistance.

“With this settlement, our goal is for school districts throughout California to recognize the harm caused by protecting educators and overlooking the safety of students,” stated Cerri.

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Jane Doe v. San Francisco Unified School District

Jane Doe

“Every step of the way, Lauren gave me hope when I felt hopeless, and she gave me help when I felt helpless. Lauren was the attorney who I knew was in my corner, and she will undoubtedly continue to be in the corner of survivors to hold their abuser and institution accountable.”

Jane Doe 2 v. East Side Union High School District

Jane Doe 2

“What happened to me needed to be addressed. I missed out on such an important part of my life, while my institution made no qualms. You don’t get to push kids under a rug. I’m glad I was given an opportunity to address my broken life.”

Jane Doe v. Saratoga–Los Gatos Union High School District

Jane Doe
“My family and I were so thankful for the law services and guidance received during a very emotional and challenging time; the care, sensitivity and professionalism with which our case was handled provided us with a sense of calm, clarity and confidence that we could not have navigated on our own or for each other.” Mary Doe
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