A San Jose high school teacher’s act of kindness has quickly come under fire after it was discovered Wednesday she unknowingly permitted a registered sex offender to ride a bus full of students during a field trip last month.
On Feb. 13 students from Silver Creek, Andrew Hill and East Side Union High School went on a field trip to De Anza College. Before returning from the field trip, a wheelchair-bound woman and her male companion were invited to ride back to school on the bus with the students.
East Side Union High School Superintendent Chris Funk said the woman was a parent of one of the students and was familiar to the district. While she had signed permission slips to ride with children in the past, she did not do so that day.
The man, on the other hand, was unknown to the district and did not sign any form that would authorize him to ride the bus.
Funk said a student on the bus recognized the man as a distant relative and later told his parents, but the parents told the student to stay away from the man because he is a sexual offender. They soon notified Funk of the situation.
Funk issued a letter to parents on Wednesday explaining the registered sex offender was not authorized to ride along with Andrew Hill High School students, but apparently knew a district volunteer and rode the bus back to campus.
The letter also said that the man did not have any contact with any students on that day. In addition to being extremely disappointed with the incident, Funk told ABC Local:
“[I am] a little upset that this actually happened, this breach of our policy by one of our staff members.”
Many questions and concerns have arisen from parents of Andrew Hill students.
Since starting their own investigations, Funk and the San Jose Police Department have determined that the man sat in the front, a few rows away from the children. Police have also stated that the man was “in compliance” with his sexual offender status.
Funk said he intends to re-train faculty members who go on field trips with students. He also said the district will review their policies and procedures in order to ensure that their standards are always upheld. He said:
“Our district will not allow this to happen again and violate the trust that our families have with us.”