Lee Elementary School Principal Rachel Escobedo pleads not guilty to drug, gun charges

Escobedo placed on leave in light of arrest

SAN DIEGO - An elementary school principal accused of having illegal drugs and a stolen gun in the trunk of a parked car pleaded not guilty Tuesday to felony charges of possession of a controlled substance and having a loaded firearm.

Rachel Yolanda Escobedo -- the principal at Lee Elementary School in Paradise Hills -- faces four years and four months in prison if convicted, according to the District Attorney's Office. She remains free on $25,000 bail.

The defendant was arrested in the Rolando Park area on Sept. 7, according to San Diego police.

Deputy District Attorney Kelly Rand told Judge David Szumowski that a loaded .22-caliber pistol -- which turned out to be stolen -- and illegal drugs, including more than a gram of methamphetamine, were found when Escobedo was arrested.

Shortly before 8:30 p.m. Sept. 7, an officer responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle in the 6800 block of Missy Court found the 45-year-old Escobedo sitting in her parked 1993 Honda Accord with a 60-year-old man, SDPD public affairs Lt. Kevin Mayer said.

The patrolman spotted an open vodka bottle inside the vehicle and a small amount of what turned out to be marijuana in an ashtray, the lieutenant said.

After getting permission to search the car from Escobedo, who was in the driver's seat, the officer allegedly found the loaded gun in the trunk, along with about two dozen prescription pills that appeared to be hydrocodone and four small baggies containing a white crystalline powder, Mayer said.

Escobedo, a La Mesa resident, was taken into custody without incident and her companion, whose relationship to her was unclear, was released.

The educator posted bail the next day and was suspended by the San Diego Unified School District Sept. 10. Escobedo will be back in court Oct. 17 for a readiness conference and Dec. 17 for a preliminary hearing.

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