Mark Christopher Litton, an English teacher at Miramonte High, was taken into custody at about 1 p.m. at Miramonte High in Orinda. He was arrested on suspicion of having unlawful sexual relations with an under-aged former student.
Litton, 33, of Walnut Creek, was teaching honors and AP English this semester at Miramonte, according to the school’s Blackboard site.
Perhaps too prophetically, for his AP English class, it looks like Litton was having students this week read existentialist Jean Paul Sartre’s play No Exit. It's about a man who finds himself led into a room that could be hell.
For homework due Wednesday, students were asked to “describe your own worst “hell”: “Where would the worst place to spend eternity? What would that be the worst? What personal experiences inform this hell?”
I suppose Litton is in his own worst hell right now, having been booked into County Jail in Martinez, with bail set at $250,000. And his career and reputation potentially in ruins.
From various testimonials I could find, including some of the anonymous postings on the Rate My Teacher website, it sounds like he loves poetry, could be something of a character, made jokes that students either loved or hated, was very bright, and could be very “cool”—or “strange"—and that he could really connect with some students.
One former student, who was interviewed by the Orinda News after graduating in 2007, described Litton, his AP English teacher, as “one of the most my influential teachers. He taught me how to be a better critical thinker and a better writer. He’s absolutely professional, but I also consider him a friend.”
A parent, posting in March 2009 on the advice section of the Berkeley Parents Network, says her son went to Miramonte in Orinda his freshman year and became very depressed because the kids were “cliquish and cruel.” The only bright spot, this parent said, was his son’s English class because the teacher, Mr. Litton, “was creative and inspired.”
Acalanes district officials had no comment about Litton's arrest, which looks like it took place during fifth period. It will be interesting to see how this case unfolds, and what it reveals about this teacher, who was working in one of the Bay Area's top-ranked public high schools.