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Parents enraged by indecent act in school restroom

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POSTED September 11, 2012 1:30 a.m.

LATHROP – It’s been more than a week since an alleged incident took place in a Lathrop Elementary School restroom where an underage participant in an afterschool program may have been subjected to an indecent act.

And parents are still waiting for answers.

Monday afternoon more than two dozen concerned Lathrop Elementary parents met outside of the school’s locked gymnasium to voice their concerns to community leaders – decrying Manteca Unified School District administrators for what they are citing as a lack of transparency and an unwillingness to address their concerns when they were initially raised.

The district is scheduled to meet with parents tonight at 7 p.m. inside of the school’s gymnasium to discuss what they can about the incident and what is being done to ensure safety of all children at the school.

Lathrop Vice Mayor Christopher Mateo and Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal listened to the concerns addressed – some through a translator – and offered suggestions and ways that the city could possibly get involved to ensure that future scenarios don’t arise.

“We’re going to look at the school and the city possibly going in on the purchase of cameras fifty-fifty,” Dhaliwal said in response to some parents who claim they were told by administrators that outfitting the school would cost more money than what was available and could be done if the money was raised. “We’re all parents here, and every child is just as important as our own. I think we should let the police do their job and make sure that this doesn’t happen again to another child.”

A flier was sent out following the incident outlining that on Aug. 30 at 4:10 p.m. an incident at the school involving a participant in the afterschool program may have been subjected to an indecent act by a male in the girl’s restroom.

The chief afterschool program at Lathrop Elementary is Give Every Child a Chance – the popular tutoring program founded by the late Antone Raymus.

Lathrop Police Services Chief Danielle Hohe said that her department is “diligently continuing investigative efforts” after the matter was referred to them by the school.

Elizabeth Soto said that she was upset because she’s been unable to find out what the policy is regarding the necessary procedure for informing parents of such incidents.

She believes that even though it happened after 4 p.m. the school mishandled the way the information was relayed to parents and should have called a meeting earlier – especially since it involved the safety of students.

“What I want to know is, what are the procedures for an incident like this?” Soto asked. “As parents we have the right and we want to know that our children are safe, and I feel that they waited too long. They should have gotten all of the parents together right after it happened instead of waiting like they did – it looks bad this way.

“The school is responsible for the students until they get home from school – safely to their parents.”

Other ideas discussed were possibly forming a designed Neighborhood Watch zone where parents could help keep an eye on the school – possibly even walking the perimeter during selected hours to ward off anybody who might think of sneaking onto the campus with ill intentions – as well as allowing parents to volunteer for yard duty.

Lathrop Elementary Principal David Silveira is scheduled to be at tonight’s meeting. Representatives from the Manteca Unified district office may also be present.

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