VALLEY CENTER (KGTV) - A Valley Center Elementary School teacher was arrested Thursday on suspicion of committing sex crimes against minors during a prior stint as an educator at a primary school in Bakersfield, according to San Diego County sheriff's officials.
Kyle Puette, 37, is suspected of sending harmful matter for purposes of seducing two teenage girls and communicated with them with intent to commit sexual offenses while working as a fifth-grade teacher at Louise Sandrini Elementary School from 2013 to 2017, according to the sheriff's department.
According to Bakersfield police, Puette is suspected of contacting the alleged victims via social media and engaging in sexually graphic and inappropriate online conversations with former students.
He subsequently has been employed as a third- and fifth-grade teacher at the Valley Center school.
Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District Superintendent Ron McCowan said when the district hired Puette last fall, background and fingerprint checks came back with no red flags. With all instruction being virtual, Puette rarely saw students in person.
"He was here when we did a meet and greet when we first started the virtual and materials were handed out. But the students would have been with her parents at that time," McCowan said.
On Puette's page of the school's website, he writes:
"Greetings third (Ms. Henderson) and fifth (Mrs. Contreras) grade families! I am so excited to be a part of your child's positive learning experience. My goal is not only to help your child succeed academically, but to help each child realize their full potential as a uniquely gifted individual. This is my first year teaching in Valley Center and my 10th year in the field of education. As a Support Teacher, I am here to make sure your child succeeds in all subject areas. I encourage you to contact me or call/text me whenever you have a concern or suggestion. I look forward to a great school year ahead and navigating this "virtual journey" with you and your child! "
ABC 10News looked at the public database, Transparent California. It shows that since leaving Bakersfield in 2017, Puette has been a substitute teacher all over San Diego County, including Poway, Del Mar, San Marcos, Encinitas, and Solana Beach. However, authorities say at this time, there are no known victims in San Diego County.
"The person in question is now on administrative leave, and we are looking at her legal options from here," McCowan said. "He won't be back in any kind of capacity or in contact with any of our students."
Puette was being transported back to Kern County to face charges in the case. His bail is set at $500,000.
City News Service contributed to this story