Students shocked when special education teacher appears shirtless during virtual class

Students at a Bay Area school were stunned when a teacher in a special-education math class appeared shirtless during a virtual learning session.

Amanda del Castillo Image
Monday, August 17, 2020
SJ teacher appears shirtless during virtual class
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A San Jose family is sharing a shocking remote learning scene. A teacher at Silver Creek High School logged onto a virtual class while shirtless on Friday.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A San Jose family is sharing a shocking remote learning scene. A teacher at Silver Creek High School logged onto a virtual class while shirtless on Friday.

The photos were taken by Makaylah Herrera-Avila, 13, at the start of her freshman special education math class.

"He seemed really awkward and kind of gave me like a weird vibe," Makaylah told ABC7's sister station KGO in San Francisco. "And when he was using the camera, it was all shaking around and like, moving everywhere."

"I realized he wasn't wearing a shirt," Makaylah said. "And that was kind of awkward, made me feel uncomfortable."

So she called her mother. Elizabeth Avila told Makaylah to take a picture, then immediately log off. She left the class of 10 to 15 other students.

"Some of the kids in the class, they're special needs," Avila said. "So they probably don't realize that that's wrong."

Avila went straight to Silver Creek, then to the East Side Union High School District (ESUHSD). She said she provided officials there with pictures, asking whether the virtual class was recorded.

"They said no because it's a violation of privacy and there's a big old thing," she explained. "I go, 'But what about the kids? You know, their safety - being exposed to things and can't even prove it once it's done?'"

Now she's demanding district leaders find better ways to monitor staff.

"This should be like a zero-tolerance kind of thing," Avila shared. "Like, he's grown. He knows the rules. He should not be exposing himself like that to all these minors. You know, at the end of the day, they're still kids and it's wrong."

Avila and her daughter have identified the teacher as Richard Cabral. According to Silver Creek's website, Cabral is listed as a special education teacher.

"When I came home and I tried talking to her about it," Avila said. "I was like, 'Why didn't you tell him like, hey, you're breaking the rules, put a shirt on.' She was just like, 'No, I'm gonna get in trouble. You don't tell a person of authority to do something.'"

A Twitter account under his name and matching profile picture uncovered some questionable and pornographic interests, which leave the Avilas even more concerned.

"We've never had to deal with this kind of situation. You can sit there and say, 'Don't talk to strangers. And if someone touches you, or a grownup does something to you, and it's physically happening,'" Avila continued. "But now this is virtual stuff. So, it's a whole new world, this whole cyber stuff."

KGO reached out to Cabral, but did not hear back.

Avila said she's filed a formal complaint with the district.

ESUHSD Superintendent Chris Funk said in a statement:

"The picture appears to be an employee of ESUHSD. At this time, I'm not going to release any information on the alleged employee. I will say that the behavior is unacceptable, unprofessional and violates several district policies.

This situation is under investigation. In situations like this, an employee is immediately placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation."