Lincoln Middle School principal Tristan Komlas told concerned parents Monday, May 5, “We are here tonight to come together as a community … to start the process of understanding and dealing” with the arrest of our seventh grade ESL [English as a Second Language] teacher, Thomas Beltran. “We want to support our students in this very difficult situation.”
SMMUSD Superintendent Dianne Talarico told the packed audience at the Lincoln auditorium that she was notified last Friday by Santa Monica’s Chief of Police that a Lincoln student would be interviewed by police because of “allegations of inappropriate touching.” She then learned on Saturday that Beltran had been taken into custody and she set up a meeting on Sunday at Lincoln to help “outline what support structures to put in place to respond to the school’s children” on Monday morning. At that meeting, she and other school officials decided the school’s “activities should be kept as normal as possible,” including having the students take the planned California achievement tests.
On Sunday, administrators also decided that teachers would discuss with students what happened to Beltran right after they finished the achievement tests.
The District’s Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Michael Matthews, responded to a question from the audience on what happens if the allegations against Beltran are proven to be untrue. He stated that “for his protection and the District’s protection” he is on “home assignment” and he is assumed innocent until proven guilty. “We know learning can’t occur if students do not fell safe at school. We are already investigating ways to improve safety for children at school.”
Principal Komlas said that “teachers are required to keep classroom doors open when giving students one-on-one tutoring” to encourage them to feel comfortable and safe.
Carl Hobkirk, who is one of the Assistant Principals at Lincoln, stressed the importance of parents having a conversation with their children about what to do when a person does something that makes them uncomfortable.
Additional counseling is being provided all week at the school for both students and parents, and special support is being given to Beltran’s students.
The Mirror spoke with a group of parents after the meeting who weren’t comfortable giving their names. They stated as a group that they felt their questions and concerns were adequately responded to at the meeting, but they felt “overwhelmed that something like this happened” at Lincoln.
Nerida Gilbuena, who is the parent of a Lincoln seventh grader, felt differently. She feels her concerns were not addressed adequately; her daughter is not comfortable coming to school because she was sexually assaulted by another student who still attends Lincoln.