A Gilroy woman said she alerted Gilroy High School officials and police more than a year ago to sexual texts sent by Gilroy High School science teacher Doug Le—who was arrested April 26 on suspicion of soliciting lewd pictures from minors—but nothing was done.
“This is mind boggling to me,” said Celest Benn, whose daughter received the texts making reference to male anatomy and sex acts. “They should have done something a year and a half ago, but they ignored it.”
Benn said the texts were intended for a male classmate who had borrowed her daughter’s phone.
San Jose Police arrested Le, 25, who had taught honors science classes at Gilroy since 2013, after an investigative unit connected him to a fake online site where he posed as a girl and asked boys to send photos of themselves.
Deborah Flores, Gilroy Unified School District superintendent, said she and a panel of two others investigated the complaint in October 2014 and took disciplinary action against Le. She said it was the highest level of action she could take, but wouldn’t elaborate on the specifics of the case.
She didn’t refer the matter to police because, she said, “while Mr. Le’s conduct was unprofessional and unacceptable, it did not constitute a crime or reportable offense.”
The most strict punishments, short of suspension or termination, are to write a 45- or 90-day disciplinary letter informing the teacher of unprofessional conduct, giving directives and outlining what will happen if the directives are not followed within that time period.
Flores said there were no other complaints against Le and no evidence of inappropriate behavior until police arrested him last week.
Benn, who posted her grievances on Facebook and said she hoped they would go viral, said she and her daughter were anguished over the way they were treated. She had her daughter transferred to another school and said her daughter has changed since the incident, becoming more shy and afraid to stay after school or talk to teachers. She said the school offered her daughter no counseling or help.
Flores said the district has suspended Le and is moving toward firing him. “Now that we have been presented with this evidence, we are acting very aggressively,” she said.
Of the earlier complaint, she said, “I was involved in the investigation and there were several inappropriate texts but no evidence of enticing minors to send inappropriate material, like the current charges.”
Benn said she reported the incident to Gilroy Police, but was told by an officer who has since retired that it didn’t appear to be a crime. Police spokesman Sgt. Jason Smith said the department has no record of the complaint and said it was not investigating it. Benn said the officer told her it was just “social media.”
Benn also said she met with Le after she saw the texts last October and he told her they were “silly” and “jokes.” The texts couldn’t be quoted on a family news site, but, among other things, they made reference to slang terms for oral sex.
She said if the district had taken it more seriously the harm that happened later could have been stopped. Gilroy officials said at least two current students had been approached by Le, as well as a handful of former students.
The case is being investigated by San Jose Police as part of a countywide task force that monitors children’s safety on the internet.