Allegations of child molestation by a coach at Sycamore Valley Academy have sent shockwaves across the school as officials try to figure out what happened.
Parents said they were told by their students that Andrew Ontiveros, 22, was arrested Friday on campus.
Ontiveros is a physical education teacher at the school just outside Visalia, Calif. He began coaching track and field at the academy in 2017.
According to Ontiveros’ LinkedIn profile, he also volunteered as a youth football coach.
“We are devastated over this,” SVA Principal Damien Phillips said.
Superintendent Ruth Dutton said Ontiveros, just like all other SVA employees, was “lawfully cleared” to work at the school through a thorough criminal background and reference check.
Some parents of Sycamore Valley students have expressed outrage that no information has been shared with them. Others said they had no clue the incident even occurred.
Dutton released a statement to parents Sunday morning.
“School staff are preparing to support the SVA community through this difficult time,” she said. “When we return to school on Monday, we will have counselors and administrators available to assist students and parents who need support or have information to share.
Ontiveros was arrested on campus Friday after a seventh-grader accused him of sexual misconduct and sending inappropriate photos to the victim through social media.
Detectives said this went on for roughly six months. It’s also believed Ontiveros had “sexual contact” with the student.
Ontiveros was booked into Tulare County Main Jail on suspicion of lewd acts on a child and child endangerment likely causing great bodily harm.
His bail was set at $100,000.
According to the academy’s website, the mission of the school is to “provide a rich, meaningful education in a nurturing environment, where students are continually challenged and their natural curiosity, creativity, and talents can thrive.”
“SVA encourages everyone in the community to exercise patience and understanding as SVA deals with the implications of the criminal charges against this employee,” Dutton said. “We must also keep in mind that individuals prosecuted in our criminal justice system are innocent until proven guilty.”