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Fontana hazing allegations 'gut-wrenching,' superintendent says

June 25, 2012 |  1:28 pm

Officials at a Fontana high school expressed shock Monday over “gut-wrenching and disheartening” allegations of in-classroom hazing involving a popular masonry teacher, the district’s superintendent said.

Emmanuel De La Rosa, 27, was arrested along with four students Saturday evening in connection with the alleged assaults at A.B. Miller High School, Fontana police Sgt. Robert Morris said. Officials have declined to release details of the incident, citing an ongoing investigation, but said at least one student suffered minor injuries as a result.

“I’m a mom of three kids. Any kind of news like this is really gut-wrenching and disheartening,” said Fontana Unified School District Superintendent Cali Olsen-Binks. “You hear about these things in different districts nationwide and, as educators, when something like this is alleged, it’s painful because parents entrust us with their kids.”

Police did say they believe the incident involved students in a summer school class that began May 31 and that De La Rosa “facilitated some students to carry out the hazing to limit behavior problems within the classroom.”

There was no indication, officials said, that other teachers or staff knew about the alleged incident. Olsen-Binks said De La Rosa, who substitute taught prior to his full-time hiring in 2009, was a “very popular” teacher who was “very successful with the students.”

“Our whole staff is in shock,” Olsen-Binks said. “Everybody is taken aback.”

De La Rosa is on administrative leave, Olsen-Binks said.

The inquiries began Friday when a parent called the district’s police department to report an alleged incident, Olsen-Binks said. A district officer began investigating the complaint and officials asked the Fontana Police Department for help later that day.

School officials began pulling information overnight so Fontana police detectives could begin interviews with students in the class Saturday morning, Olsen-Binks said. The arrests came by the end of the day.

The 700-student summer school, which ends this week, was back in session Monday, Olsen-Binks said. An assistant principal has taken over De La Rosa’s class and counselors will be on hand throughout the week for students and staff.

“It’s very, very difficult. We are of course feeling very heavy-heartened about the allegations,” Olsen-Binks said. “Our priority is to support the police department, but to also have things in support for our students and our staff and community.”

Students worried about the image of their school in the wake of the news, Olsen-Binks said.

“The biggest concern when I met with them this morning was that A.B. Miller would not be considered a bad school,” she said. “It’s not a small school, but a tight-knit school, and that’s very important to them.”

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— Kate Mather

twitter.com/katemather

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