Parents furious after SJ special education teacher who appeared shirtless reaches out to students

Over the weekend, parents say the teacher contacted their children with an update. Those parents are furious he maintained any online access to students.

Amanda del Castillo Image
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
SJ teacher who appeared shirtless reaches out to students
On administrative leave and able to access e-mail? A San Jose special needs teacher who appeared shirtless to the virtual classroom, has parents enraged again, for a different reason.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- There are new developments in a story surrounding the San Jose special education teacher who is under investigation for logging onto a virtual class shirtless.

ABC7 News first told you about the incident on Friday. Over the weekend, parents say the teacher contacted their children with an update. Those parents are furious he maintained any online access to students.

Elizabeth Avila said she was surprised an e-mail from Richard Cabral made it to her daughter's inbox on Saturday evening.

RELATED: SJ special education teacher appears shirtless during virtual class, teen who snapped photos speaks out

Cabral is the Silver Creek High School teacher who was identified in two shirtless photos. The pictures were taken by Avila's 13-year-old daughter, during her special education math class on Friday.

The East Side Union High School District (ESUHSD) confirmed Cabral was put on paid administrative leave.

"My mind was blown! I was like, this guy really reached out to these kids," Avila told ABC7 News.

After receiving the e-mail, Avila said she contacted the high school principal.

"I immediately called her and asked her, how does he still have access? If he was suspended, shouldn't his access to these kids be terminated as well? Like, what are his intentions now?" she explained.

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Avila also shared her disappointed in the school district. She said, aside from what has already been reported, ESUHSD has not reached out to parents.

"We have a right to know what's going on in our schools and stuff, and they're not even doing their part of notifying us," she told ABC7 News. "Here we are, almost Tuesday now, and still there's no letter or nothing stating that. Who knows if there's another child out there that might have been traumatized by this. And they don't know how to speak up and tell their parents what they saw, in fear that they're going to get in trouble."

Cabral's e-mail read in-part: "It looks like I will not be teaching you for an indefinite period. I hope to be able to resume my teaching as soon as possible."

"It doesn't state why he's leaving. It doesn't state, 'Oh, I'm sorry for my actions.' It didn't state anything. It's very vague," Avila added.

ABC7 News tried Cabral's ESUHSD e-mail on Monday. There was an immediate notification that delivery had failed. A prompt read, "The address couldn't be found, or is unable to receive mail."

After the story aired on Friday, ABC7 News heard from another parent. Rachel Garcia said she connected a few dots, including class and high school details, then called over her 13-year-old daughter.

"I said, 'Angelina is this your teacher?' And she said yes. And I said, 'He didn't have a shirt on yesterday in your class?' And she stopped and she said no. And I'm like, 'Why didn't you tell me? You have to tell me these things? You know, that's important,'" Garcia explained.

She continued, "Her mind is focused on learning in the class, and she's not focusing on exactly what he's wearing."

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On Monday, Garcia searched for any note from the district, explaining the incident.

"Instead, we opened my daughter's e-mail and got an e-mail from him," Garcia shared. "So that was super upsetting."

Garcia also shared frustration over the lack of communication from the high school and district.

"An email could have made the situation a little bit better if we had gotten something from them," she told ABC7 News. "But not hearing from anybody and then getting that e-mail from him to my daughter... That wasn't okay."

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"He sent it Saturday, in the evening," she continued. "His email should have been cut off the second that the complaint was made. And you knew you were putting him on administrative leave. He already knew he was on leave and he still send that email to the students."

By Monday evening, Garcia received a call back from ESUHSD, "I did get a call back, and I did tell them that if he did contact my daughter again, I would be going to the authorities. Because that now is considered harassment."

We reached out to the district to ask why Cabral had been in contact with students, and what his access would be moving forward.

Superintendent Chris Funk wrote back, "He is not to be in contact with any of his students. There was a timing issue on Friday issuing his notice. I will not be commenting any further during this investigation."

However, both mothers continue to push for answers and action.

"He was shirtless the entire class and she even said he was holding the laptop. So, it kind of fell and almost like, exposed his whole chest," Garcia explained. "And that he kind of thought it was funny and like, straightened it out."

Garcia said she had a talk with her daughter and explained that if the teen was ever in a situation where she felt uncomfortable, that she should speak up right away.

"These are kids that have learning disabilities. And I'm just going to say it, some have mental illness or are delayed. My daughter has been in special ed. since she was in kindergarten," Garcia shared with ABC7 News. "So, when I stand up for her and I fight for her rights and everything that needs to be done for IEP (Individualized Education Program) ... I hope that the school and I trust them, that they're holding up their bargain to do that for her."

Avila admitted she was supposed to meet with the school district on Monday. However, she canceled.

She has since hired a lawyer. Avila explained, "We're not trying to pursue anything. We just want to make sure that everything goes down the right way."

"Just to be careful and have somebody to represent us, just to keep us in my mind, and my child safe" she told ABC7 News. "I reacted like any normal parent would. I don't think what I did was wrong by sharing my story. I just wanted people to know."

She said another teacher is expected to lead the class on Tuesday.

"There's probably parents out there, going on their whole weekend not even realizing that their children were involved in and affected by something like this," Avila said.