By Patric Hedlund and Gary Meyer
PINE MOUNTAIN, Calif. (August 30) – In a contradictory turn of events, charges of criminal sexual conduct with a minor against newly-hired Frazier Mountain High School teacher David Allan Deshler, 44 were dropped on Thursday, Aug. 28 by a New Mexico prosecutor. The next day, Deshler’s California teaching credential (which had been reinstated on August 8) was again shown as suspended by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) website. These two events took place as the latest issue of The Mountain Enterprise, carrying a report about the teacher’s indictment, was being distributed on newsstands.
On Saturday, Aug. 30 The Mountain Enterprise interviewed Deshler, reviewing the timeline of his employment at FMHS. During the interview, Deshler said that he reported to the Kern County Superintendent of School’s office for a "live scan" (during which a computerized imprint of his fingerprints was transmitted to the Department of Justice) before he went for the employment interview at FMHS. "I passed the live scan background check," he said.
On Friday, Aug. 15, Deshler said, he was hired to teach 10th grade science at Frazier Mountain High School, just before the new school year was to begin. He is not credentialed to teach at the high school level, but was "hired on a waiver to give me time to take classes" to secure an appropriate credential. He has not taught science previously, he said. He does have a "science supplemental" to his credential. His previous teaching experience has been with elementary school first through third graders.
Deshler said he has been employed by elementary schools in Salinas, California; Piñon, Arizona on the Navajo reservation; and Española, New Mexico. He said he was "not re-elected" (not rehired) after two years in Salinas and had been suspended in both Piñon and Española.
A search of court records in Arizona yields two September 13, 2004 convictions, one for interference with an educational institution/threat of damage to educational property and one for criminal trespassing. A third count was dismissed. The case was appealed and on April 14, 2005, Deshler was found Not Guilty on seven counts of Disrupting an Educational Institution and found Guilty on one count of Trespassing in the Second Degree. Then, in October, 2007 in New Mexcio, during his employment at Española, a grand jury indicted him for inappropriate sexual contact with a 7-year-old girl. Deshler denies the event took place, saying that the girl was not one of his students and that he did not know the girl.
"She said I touched her butt and rubbed her chest in the lunch line," he said in the interview, adding that she was a second grade student and that her friends at lunch with her said they did not see such an encounter. He again denied the charges. He said the mother hoped to "get a conviction and then sue the school district for money. That is a corrupt part of the state."
The prosecutor in the case dropped the charges in April of 2008 and the grand jury filed a new indictment on May 15, which is the most recent case that was dropped by the prosecutor this week.
On Saturday, Aug. 16 Deshler’s conduct with young children at the Pine Mountain Club swimming pool was questioned by parents and he was asked to leave. Deshler denied taking photos of children, but agrees he was playing ball and splashing with children at the pool. Later that afternoon he re-appeared at an outdoor concert and was said to be taking photos of children—leading to further confrontation with parents who told him to stop and to leave. Sheriff’s Deputy D.J. Gregory responded to a parent’s call, Deshler said (handing our reporter the deputy’s card). Frazier Park substation’s Sgt. Bryan Armendariz reported to The Mountain Enterprise that no photos of children were found on Deshler’s camera, no outstanding warrants were discovered and Deshler is not listed in the Megan’s Law database of convicted sex offenders.
But parents who spotted Deshler’s New Mexico license plate on August 16 began an internet search on his background, yielding information about the New Mexico indictment and the 120-day suspension of Deshler’s teaching credential (reported in CTC’s minutes of June 5, 2008). The Mountain Enterprise independently confirmed the 2007 indictment and the CTC suspension, followed by CTC’s August 8 reversal of the suspension.
On Monday, Aug. 18 Deshler reported to work at FMHS. On Wednesday, Aug. 20 students returned to begin their new school year and Deshler began teaching classes. On Friday, Aug. 22, he was "told to go home" pending an investigation by the district, "because someone showed the principal reports" about the New Mexico indictment, he said in the interview.
By August 29 the state credentialing commission had again suspended Deshler’s credential, just a day after the prosecutor in New Mexico dropped the charges. When asked about the renewed suspension, Deshler said, "I have ten days to show them (CTC) proof that the criminal case has been dropped."
A full report of the interview with parents and with Deshler will appear in the September 5 issue of The Mountain Enterprise.
This is part of the August 29, 2008 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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