A veteran San Francisco kindergarten teacher pleaded not guilty Monday to felony child endangerment in connection with a December incident in which he allegedly held a student over a second-story railing.
Andres Tobar, 47, whose attorney said he had been joking around with the student, was arrested last week and submitted his resignation Friday to the San Francisco Unified School District. He is free on $50,000 bail.
Several supporters, including parents from Marshall Elementary School, attended Monday’s Superior Court hearing.
“As you can tell by the turnout, he’s very beloved at (Marshall) for over 21 years,” said Tobar’s attorney, James Campbell. “I’m thinking hopefully there is some overzealousness looking at the charges. But that’s understandable, because obviously they want to be protective of the children.”
The charges stem from an incident Dec. 19 in which Tobar was seen cradling a student over the railing of an interior balcony at the school, said district spokeswoman Gentle Blythe. She said officials immediately contacted the child’s parents and that Tobar was placed on leave while the district conducted an investigation.
“We realize that Mr. Tobar’s arrest by the San Francisco Police Department is upsetting news,” Blythe said. “Many community members have expressed their support for Mr. Tobar.”
The district is providing additional staff members to work with families and students “during this difficult time,” she said.
Police initiated an investigation in January, resulting in a warrant for Tobar’s arrest. The teacher turned himself in last Tuesday. A court order requires him to stay away from the student and the school, according to the district attorney’s office.
Tobar remained on paid leave Monday, with his resignation pending, district officials said.
Tobar would never put a child in danger, Campbell said, adding he hasn’t seen an apparent video recording of the incident.
“From what I understand right now, they were moving a classroom and he picked up a child and took him over to the railing, joked around and someone saw it and reported it as a child falling over the rail,” Campbell said. “Under no circumstances would he ever put a child in danger — I mean, it’s just inconceivable to his whole background and the whole reason he took the job to begin with.”