Parents, students and teachers are coming forward and talking to 10News about a San Diego school teacher's alleged misconduct around his students.
Witnesses told 10News they have seen incidents in which Promise Charter School teacher Jose Valencia acted inappropriately around students.
"He was up on the courtyard with two little girls around him and both of them were playing with his hair," said parent Sandra Ruiz, whose child was on a soccer team coached by Valencia.
Former Promise Charter School counselor Erick Cordero told 10News, "I noticed the teacher on the ground with his legs crossed, girls surrounding him and playing with his hair."
When asked if he was ever inappropriate with a student, Valencia told 10News, "Never."
A former student of Valencia's told 10News about an incident she witnessed when another girl asked Valencia a question in class.
"She wanted to know what a word meant in the book and she asked the teacher and he started laying [sic] down on the bean bag and she laid down, too," the former student said.
The former student said the book was "Chicken Soup for the Lover's Soul."
A former principal said in court documents that she was fired for cooperating with a police investigation into four separate complaints "concerning Mr. Valencia's inappropriate behavior with female students."
A police investigation into one of the complaints was never finished because, according to court records, "(the alleged) victim was not able to compose herself to answer questions."
Valencia has never been charged with a crime.
Two of his former students told 10News he asked them not to talk about what happened in class.
"He says, 'What if they fire me?' What would happen to his wife and kids and stuff like that," one former student said.
"He just stared at me and said, 'If anything happens to me, if I ever go to jail, just think about my wife and future kids," another former student said.
When initially asked if he had any idea about the accusations being made against him, Valencia said, "Not really."
10News learned Valencia does have knowledge about complaints against him. He has responded to them in writing: "How was I supposed to know that sitting next to a girl student ... is inappropriate?" and "How was I supposed to know that if a student ... fixes my hair it's inappropriate?"
Valencia is a member of the San Diego Education Association, and when asked for a comment on this story, the vice president of that teacher's union told 10News reporter Mitch Blacher, "I'm recommending to Jose, in terms of protecting himself from predators like his principal and you, to not talk."
"I'm kind of shocked that the union is protecting teachers like that," Promise Charter School Principal Jose Orozco said.
Orozco said his school board hasn't been able to fire Valencia because of union protection. He told 10News past similar complaints were made about a teacher who wasn't a union member and he was let go.
Orozco said an assistant is now always in Valencia's classroom to observe.
Orozco told 10News inappropriate behavior on school property has stopped.
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