School teacher's arrest shocks parents

Craig Chandler

January 11, 2012 7:31:56 PM PST
Parents at a San Jose elementary school are reacting to the news that a teacher has been accused of sexually assaulting a child on campus.

Psychologists were at Whaley Elementary School on Wednesday helping children deal with their teacher's stunning arrest. Both parents and faculty have been devastated by the news. Some parents say they had some frank, tough discussions with their kids last night, and they admit they don't have all the answers.

"We're kind of like stunned at the same time and shocked," parent Debora Albright said. "We're like, 'Oh my God, is it true? Is it not?'"

Teacher Craig Chandler is now in jail accused of sexually assaulting a child on school campus between August and October of last year. They are not revealing the child's age. Chandler has worked at the school for nine years. Administrators say parents aren't the only ones who are outraged.

"It's kind of like your worst nightmare," associate superintendent Kathy Shepard said. "You never want to ever believe that anybody that you know could even be accused of something like this."

School district officials were on campus Wednesday morning to greet children and answer their parents' questions. They sent a letter home with the kids in the accused teacher's class, but some parents of other children at the school just found out about the arrest this morning. Parents who know Chandler say he always seemed like a nice, caring teacher.

"That's one of the things I'm more in shock [about]," parent Celso Torres said. "I always see that teacher one of the most charming teachers in here. That's evil."

Administrators say they want parents to know children's safety is their first priority and they are looking into whether they need to do more to protect them.

"That's something we have to really look deeper at because we felt we had a lot of those things in place, but we're going to have to continue to pursue many things, we're looking at many options," Shepard said.

Police arrested Chandler at his home in San Jose Tuesday night. His neighbor, Marisa McEmurry, says Chandler's two young children play with her grandchildren and his wife is pregnant with their third child.

"He loves his wife, he loves his children, he's a wonderful father, he's a really good family man, he's a good neighbor," McEmurry said. "If an adult takes advantage of child, I think he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but I do not I do not feel Craig is even capable of doing anything like this. I really do not."

"We have enough information to believe it occurred at least once, but we believe it occurred on the school grounds between August and October of last year, 2011," San Jose Police spokesman Officer Jose Garcia said.

"I was kind of scared, but my wife more worried about it because my daughter isn't the kid to talk keep secrets, but she said nothing happened," parent Frankie Cruz said.

Chandler is being held without bail and is scheduled to appear in court on Friday.

Police are concerned there may be more victims and are encouraging anyone with any information on this case to call SJPD Detective Sean Pierce at (408) 277-4102. People wishing to remain anonymous can call the Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at (408) 947-STOP (7867) or visit