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Sex offender volunteered at elementary school

February 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A registered sex offender was on campus at a Whittier elementary school, reading to children and even playing Santa Claus.

John Davis, a retired Army Major, was arrested but is now out on bail.

Davis was convicted in San Diego County in 2000 for felony attempted lewd acts with a child under 14-years-old. He is a registered sex offender and is required by law to disclose his status.

There is outrage and concern at Los Altos Elementary School Friday afternoon, after parents learned that Davis was allowed on school grounds, and according to some parents, not just once. Parents at say he has been an active volunteer for at least two years.

"When I saw his picture come up on the news, I couldn't believe it," said parent Julie Collis. "Because this guy is on grounds constantly."

School officials sent a letter home today addressing the issue for the first time since 56-year-old Davis was arrested Wednesday. The letter says Davis' access to students was minimal, triggering even more anger from parents.

"I did read the letter," said Collis. "It sounds like they're sugar coating it. They're saying this guy had no involvement. How is that? When he went from classroom to classroom for two years straight, dressed as Santa."

Davis also volunteered at a Veteran's Day assembly. Sheriff's deputies say they recognized him from the assembly while doing a routine check on registered sex offenders in the area.

"When he opened the door," said Sgt. Steven Mills from the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. "The deputies noticed he was wearing a full dress blue uniform for an Army Major. And they recognized him at being at one of our local elementary schools in the unincorporated Whittier County area back in November."

Davis, a retired Army Major and former White House official during the Clinton administration, was arrested this week for failing to disclose he was a convicted sex offender when he read to students for Hero's Day.

"Surprise and shock," said Los Altos Elementary School Principal Martha Mastanza-Rojas. "We weren't aware of anything until police notified us."

School officials deny knowing anything of Davis' criminal past. But at least one parent insists she told a school secretary that Davis was a registered sex offender, and even gave her a print out from the internet with his picture.

"Never brought to my attention," said Principal Rojas in response to the allegation. "I was never informed of that."

Parents say school officials owe them more than a simple statement on paper, and they plan to demand a full explanation.

Parents also said that Davis' live in girlfriend is the PTA President at Los Altos Elementary and her children attend the school. This may be the reason why Davis had the opportunity to volunteer without many questions asked.

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