Calling for Transparency: Glendale arrests spark school safety concerns | News | #schoolsaftey

Pedro Antonio Tellez, a 29-year-old John Muir Elementary School employee who worked part-time at the One Glendale After School Youth Sports Program and Summer Day Camp Program since March, has been charged with eight felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under age 14.

Also known as Pedro Antonio Hernandez Llamas, Tellez, who also served as an aide for disabled students, was arrested after allegedly touching at least six boys “inappropriately and with a sexual intent” between 2018 and 2023, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

In a letter to employees, families and community members, interim superintendent Darneika Watson wrote that “GUSD takes every reported act of misconduct seriously. We are working closely with GPD and the City of Glendale to investigate and address these allegations. Although the allegations relate to the individual’s employment with the City of Glendale, GUSD immediately placed the employee on administrative leave for the alleged misconduct. The safety of our students is our highest priority.”

Parents of two victims told police in two separate reports that their children had been touched inappropriately by Tellez at John Muir Elementary School, Glendale Police Department Sgt. Victor Jackson said, while authorities indicated that more victims have come forward and are being interviewed.

“Those we entrust with our children should be beacons of support and guidance, providing a safe and nurturing environment where our children can learn and grow,” District Attorney George Gascón said. “It’s heartbreaking and deeply disturbing when someone entrusted with such a role, and especially someone acting as a guardian to such a vulnerable group of children, chooses to violate the sacred trust that exists between educators, students and their families. We will not tolerate such despicable acts within our community.”

Steven Frasher, a 62-year-old employee of the Los Angeles County Public Works Department and former public information officer for the Glendale Unified School District, was also arrested on the same day as Tellez. The Redlands resident was taken into custody by detectives from the San Bernardino Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and Specialized Crimes Unit on suspicion of possession of child pornography following a cyber tip that Frasher was downloading and saving illicit child content in an internet storage account, officials said.

According to San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department records, Frasher has been released on bail. He has since submitted a two-sentence letter of resignation from the Redlands Planning Commission.

“I hearby resign as member and chair of the Redlands Planning Commission,” he said. “It has been an honor to serve the City of Redlands in this role.”

In light of the arrests, Glendale resident, parent and school board candidate Jordan Henry called for increased transparency and said a well-informed parent community can act as a powerful deterrent.

“Parents deserve full transparency about what happens in their children’s schools,” Henry said. “Reports I’ve got from people who work in the city state that (Tellez) was only a city employee at that point for about three months, and he was an employee for more than seven years by the district. This is the problem. There was a previous investigation into Pedro Tellez in 2018. He was also a suspect of child molestation and he continued to maintain his role working one-on-one with children as an intensive support employee. … No information about that was disclosed to parents to the best of my knowledge.”

Henry said had parents been informed about Tellez being a suspect in the past, he might not have continued working with children in the same capacity. He called it a pervasive issue that stems from a “culture of distrust” in the district.

“There is a lack of transparency between the district, parents and the community regarding their children,” he explained. “Parents really should be included in all conversations about their child’s well-being, their safety and any sort of potential threat that could involve their child, especially sexually. The school board and school administrators should only endorse an ‘absolute transparency’ policy.”

A statement from GUSD said every reported act of misconduct is treated seriously and the district will work alongside law enforcement to ensure swift and thorough action when allegations are made. The district implements “rigorous hiring practices” based on California law and the education code to protect the students, with each new hire required to submit fingerprints to the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

California law also requires that each school district trains their employees on the requirements of mandated reporting, which GUSD said applies to all employees, substitutes and contractors.

For Henry, the future must include opening more lines of frequent communication between GUSD and the families it serves.

“Fundamentally, our kids deserve quality education that’s going to prepare them to get a fulfilling life and career,” he said. “That is the bottom line with public education, and because it is public education, we as parents and community members have every right to be involved with each aspect of that and to develop a requirement to have that transparency between the schools and the community. The fact that we’re now having this conversation and these issues are coming out given the context of their policies and their procedures, it’s really unsettling, but the community is coming together and supporting this effort to reestablish trust in the culture.”

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