An 18-year-old lunch monitor plead not guilty on Friday to charges of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl at a new South Bay charter school.
A Santa Clara County judge ordered Jonathan Chow, who is being held without bail, to re-appear in court on Dec. 7 for a preliminary hearing.
The Cupertino lunch monitor and teacher’s aide at Spark Charter School in Sunnyvale was arrested on Sept. 15 after police say he lured an 8-year-old girl to a secluded area on campus and molested her.
Police said the girl then notified someone at the school of the alleged assault.
Chow did not say much in court on Friday, but he did speak to NBC Bay Area in an earlier jail-house interview.
“Judge me for what I have done and do not drag my family into this,” Chow said at the time. “I have done what I have done and my family is not part of this.”
His lawyer has requested that Chow undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Meanwhile, the school, which opened for its first academic year in August, faced immediate backlash from parents and community members after police revealed that comprehensive background checks on employees had not been completed.
Spark then closed for a few days while the Santa Clara County Office of Education visited the campus and reviewed the security lapse. Following the visit, two other employees were fired, though board members said it was a confidential personnel matter and declined to comment on why the other employees were let go.
Spark Charter School serves about 160 students in kindergarten through sixth grade. The school’s principal and board member, Danni Tsai, resigned about three weeks after the alleged assault and was promptly replaced by William Overton, who has been working with the Palo Alto Unified School District for more than 35 years.