Delano parents, students claim school employee poses threat
DELANO, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Members of the Delano High School varsity football team say they no longer feel safe or comfortable with the presence of Alex Lopez, employed as athletic equipment utility worker.
Students and parents took their concerns before the Delano Joint Union High School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday evening.
Students said Lopez belittles students and threatens their families.
"He cussed them and just brings them down, which is verbal abuse," said Miguel Huerta, a junior and member of the football team.
"(Students) are going to be watching over their shoulder, and it's just not safe," said fellow teammate Javier Garcia.
Lopez was placed on paid administrative leave in September after the district received allegations that he had engaged in criminal misconduct. Assistant Superintendent James Hay said the district contacted police, which then launched a criminal investigation.
According to Delano Police Sgt. Pete Lopez, investigators found no evidence Alex Lopez had engaged in any inappropriate relationship with female students. The school district then allowed Lopez to return to his job on Monday, a decision that did not sit well with some parents.
"I don't feel my, our children are safe," said Magdalena Garcia who has a son at Delano High. "How can you be safe with someone who belittles you?"
While the police criminal investigation may be closed, Hay said the district is doing its own internal investigation.
"We are concerned about some of the conduct that's been alleged," said Hay. "The employee will receive a full and fair investigation and all the due processes he's entitled to."
Others defend Lopez and feel the accusations are based on hearsay and rumors.
"We're actually supposed to be innocent until proven guilty," said Tina Campos, who works for the Migrant Program at Delano High.
Campos said she's known Lopez for a while, and he does not fit the description as outlined by parents and students.
"He's a very genuine, good person, very helpful, and is here for the kids," said Campos.
Eyewitness News reached out to Lopez for comment. Hay said Lopez is not allowed to make any public comment for now.