Students and parents at Albany Middle School were stunned Thursday morning to learn a popular teacher and coach had been arrested. James Izumizaki, 28, was arrested at his Albany home Wednesday on a single count of lewd acts with a child under the age of 14.
His former students can't believe Izumizaki's charged with such a crime. "I had him as a teacher and he was really nice and very charming and he was totally friendly, not in a creepy way, but in a hey, you're a cool teacher way," one student said.
Albany schools Superintendent Marla Stephenson says Izumizaki was hired as a substitute in 2007 and received a full-time position as a sixth-grade teacher in 2008. "He's very active at the middle school, involved in our student leadership program, our athletic coordinator, coaching seventh-grade volleyball and 8th grade boys' basketball," she said.
The allegation against Izumizaki came to light after the Albany high school principal contacted administrators at the middle school. Police would only say Izumizaki had an "inappropriate relationship" with an underage student who is still attending classes in the district.
"Arrested Mr. I? What?" one student exclaimed Thursday morning.
"I just hope it's not true. My daughter adored him. He was a great teacher. So, I've lived here all my life. I know him. As a student myself, I went to school. I just hope it's not true," Jessica McKinney said.
Willie Bennett has lived across from Izumizaki and his family for many years. "I'd give him all of my moral support that I can and I'd really like to know what's really going on behind it," he said.
Izumizaki was released from Santa Rita Jail in Dublin and is set to be arraigned in Oakland on Friday.