San Francisco

Protesters Show Support for Elementary School Teacher Under Arrest on Suspicion of Child Abuse

A loud protest broke out in San Francisco on Wednesday morning in support of an elementary school teacher who was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment and abuse on Tuesday.

Andres Tobar, 47, turned himself into San Francisco police after he was allegedly seen cradling and holding a student over a balcony on the second floor of Marshall Elementary School on Dec. 19.

An employee of the San Francisco Unified School District, Tobar was initially placed on paid administrative leave following the incident in December.

After an investigation conducted by the Special Victims Unit led to his arrest, former students of Tobar who are now in high school and college protested along with parents who support the teacher.

“He was accused of something that we just cannot believe would happen,” said parent Bianca Gutierrez. "Best teacher at the school."

Shouting for Marshall Elementary School Principal, Peter Avila, supporters wanted to send a message to the district saying they don’t believe the child endangerment accusations against the former "teacher of the year."

Tobar has served the San Francisco Unified school district for nearly three decades and his former students are looking for answers as they believe the school has video of what happened and they’re asking to see it.

"He would just never do that," said former Marshall Elementary student Gracie Sambrano. "He’s not that person, he never laid a finger on anybody he was never abusive."

As for the district, Interim Assistant Superintendent Tony Payne described the events of the last few weeks as "incredibly difficult" but dismissed claims that Tobar’s arrest came courtesy of a personal vendetta with the principal or racial friction.

"Yes people are upset, yes people are looking for someone to blame," Payne said. "But the bottom line is this incident happened, and the principal and teachers at the school had to do their jobs."

Although an arrest has been made, San Francisco police encourage anyone with additional information to contact the SFPD anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444. 

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