A teacher in San Francisco is being investigated for his reckless actions against a student at the end of last year, but parents are jumping to his defense and demanding answers, reminding the public of a minor award he was given five years ago.
Andres Tobar was a kindergarten teacher at Marshall Elementary School in San Francisco, where he was admired for over 20 years. In January 2013, he was awarded Teacher of the Month by the San Francisco nonprofit organization 826 Valencia, along with a cash prize of $1,500.
However, on December 19 last year, he endangered a young student by allegedly hanging him out of a window from a second story building. The child was brought back in the classroom safely, however, at least one other teacher saw the incident as it took place and reported Tobar.
The student’s parents were notified and Tobar was put “on paid administrative leave,” and a warrant was put out for his arrest.
Protecting Tobar further, the school initially failed to notify parents of the incident and would not explain his absence. When it finally told parents what happened, families at the school surprisingly stood by Tobar’s side.
Tobar surrendered to police on Tuesday morning. He is facing felony charges of “child endangerment and abuse,” is currently being detained at the San Francisco County Jail without bail, and is expected at a court appearance in the next several days.
Over 100 parents reportedly created and signed a petition to exonerate the teacher. They claimed him to be a wonderful educator and repeatedly cited the 2013 acknowledgment.
Completely ignoring his actions, some parent report being ‘shocked’ that Tobar was arrested, one school volunteer saying, “It’s hard to see good people get punished.”
While Tobar may have been a talented teacher, he admittedly almost harmed or killed the child who was “hanging outside the window,” whose parents are not likely as fond of Tobar. Other parents report the bilingual teacher being an integral part of the school and that it will be difficult to continue in his absence.
Tobar has apparently been a saving grave for immigrant families, as he has helped many students make the transition into an English-speaking school, however, that is irrelevant to the tragedy that almost occurred from his actions in December.
Law enforcement is not as sympathetic to Tobar as parents are being and has requested that they notify police of any “suspicious contact” Tobar may have had with other students.
It is truly baffling why any parents are supporting Tobar, considering that it could have been their children dangerously hanging off the balcony.
Despite other reputable teachers reporting eyewitness accounts of the incident, parents are choosing to believe that it did not happen, saying that it does not sound consistent with Tobar’s reputation.
One parent claims that Tobar would not “intentionally” dangle a child out of a window, however, it is not clear how one would do such a thing without intending to.
Parents took their dissatisfaction with the teacher’s treatment even further when they began protesting outside the elementary school, despite the matter no longer being dealt with by the school but has escalated to law enforcement.
Joined by alumni, the group is claiming to be “sending a message” that the child abuse allegations cannot be true, despite not being present at the time. The school has indicated that it may have footage of the incident, which Tobar’s supporters are demanding to see as proof.
The Teacher of the Month award is also a trivial excuse which speaks nothing of Tobar’s character or professionalism. The award was likely a participation-type of recognition in which the organization rotates honoring various teachers.
However, this is the type of situation one might expect in the California school system, with a participation award and a few dozen parents fighting for the career of a potentially dangerous individual.
It is also disturbing that the parents do not wish for an investigation and due process to be carried out in determining Tobar’s guilt and if there are any other allegations that require addressing.
Regardless of why Tobar endangered the child, he should not be allowed to work with children in the future, as he is either mentally disturbed, cannot recognize a dangerous situation, or simply does not regard his students as vulnerable individuals who need protecting.