Teacher on leave over massage claims
By Caroline Dipping
Feb. 13, 2014

A veteran third-grade teacher at Salt Creek Elementary School in Chula Vista
who was placed on leave for allegedly soliciting massages from her students in
exchange for “class dollars” will not finish the school year after more parents
complained when she returned to the classroom.

Stephenie Parker-Petitt, 40, had been on administrative leave since Jan. 31.
She reported back to work Monday and taught her class after investigations by
the Chula Vista Elementary School District and the Chula Vista Police
Department revealed no criminal or sexual conduct.

Chula Vista police Capt. Lon Turner said three complaints were initially
reported to police. Two of the reporting parties allowed police to interview their
children; a third parent did not, he said.

“The information that was taken did not rise to criminal conduct, but instead is
being handled administratively,” Turner said. “There was no sexual nature
behind these massages.”

New complaints from parents Monday prompted the school district to again
remove Parker-Petitt from the classroom. On Thursday, school district
spokesman Anthony Millican said the district could not discuss personnel
actions, but the employee “was not in a position with children.”

Nearly a dozen parents angry over not being informed in the first place by
school or district staff of Parker-Petitt’s leave, the reason for it, or her return,
met Monday night at the elementary school with Principal Lalaine Perez, Millican
and a district executive director.

“When new allegations were made, we opened a second investigation,” Millican

Andy Stumpf, whose son is in Parker-Petitt’s class, said he and other parents
began suspecting something was wrong when their children started coming
home with no homework and talked of having a different substitute teacher
every day.

“Originally, our desire was to talk to the principal about the teaching standards,”
Stumpf said of Monday’s meeting. “We just happened to find out she was back
in the classroom that day.”

Stumpf said Parker-Petitt would give “extra class dollars to students who would
massage her legs, arms and shoulders and play with her hair. It was not
uncommon to have seven children massaging her at one time.”

Perez sent a letter to parents Thursday to inform them a fully credentialed
teacher would be assigned for the rest of the year. The letter said all
allegations were being investigated and the conduct at issue had not been
found to be sexual in nature.

“I can assure you that what the children had reported is not behavior that is
tolerated by the District and that we will continue to explore and implement
measures to address the conduct described in the complaints,” Perez wrote.

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