East San Jose school board member steps down
Alum Rock Union School District Trustee Ernesto Bejarano resigned from his position in February. File photo.

    Alum Rock Union School District board member Ernesto Bejarano has abruptly stepped down as the East San Jose district deals with a sexual abuse scandal.

    Bejarano, first elected to the school board in 2018, submitted his letter of resignation last week. He cited personal reasons for his departure. Bejarano won his 2022 election campaign for a two-year term. He declined to comment on his resignation.

    “Serving on the Alum Rock school board over the past four plus years has been one of the most challenging and gratifying periods of my life,” Bejarano said in the letter. “I step away knowing in my heart that I did everything in my power to leave this beautiful community better than I found it, and I am content in my belief that I did just that.”

    Bejarano’s departure comes as parents at Adelante Dual Language Academy continue to demand answers and accountability about a teacher’s arrest for sexual assault last fall. The teacher faces multiple counts of sexual assault or molesting children under the age of 12. At least 10 students have come forward about the teacher’s alleged inappropriate behavior.

    The issue came to a boiling point at a Jan. 26 special meeting for parents seeking answers about the incidents. Parents said Alum Rock Union School District continued to stonewall them on what the district is doing to address the issue and prevent it from happening again. During the meeting, board member Andres Quintero’s daughter apparently started chastising a female Adelante teacher on an unrelated issue, a parent who was at the meeting told San José Spotlight.

    This ended up drawing the ire of a number of teachers, parents and students who called into the board meeting on Feb. 9 to defend the teacher and criticized the board and superintendent for not stopping Quintero’s daughter.

    Quintero was not immediately available for comment.

    In response, Bejarano said he’s disappointed in the teachers who criticized Quintero’s daughter and her remarks. The student should be allowed to express her feelings and the board should prioritize students even above teachers, he said.

    “I find it inexcusable that a segment of adults, particularly educators, would actively seek to disempower our youth,” Bejarano said at the meeting. “At the end of the day, my service here is to students and families of Alum Rock, period. I make no apologies for that.”

    Bejarano submitted his letter of resignation the following day.

    An Adelante Academy parent, who asked for anonymity citing concerns for her child’s privacy and safety, said Bejarano’s resignation is further proof of his lack of commitment to students and families.

    “If he was really there for that, he would have stayed and continued to fight for the kids and asked for a report or accountability from the district,” the parent told San José Spotlight. “Just when things got hard, he’s leaving. It just reinforces that thought that he was really never there for us.”

    Bejarano’s departure came as a surprise to his colleagues on the dais, board member Minh Pham told San José Spotlight. Pham has not contacted Bejarano since his resignation and wants to respect his privacy, he added.

    “I want to thank him for contributions to the board,” Pham said. “He was a board member (who) always did research. Even when I did not agree with him, I respected his opinions and where they came from.”

    The district voted Thursday to go through an appointment process to fill Bejarano’s seat. Superintendent Hilaria Bauer said applications are due by Feb. 23 at 4 p.m.

    Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter.

    Ernesto Bejarano Resignation
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