WCC=Children’s Harm

Principal charged for not reporting alleged molest

John King
Updated 11:01 p.m., Tuesday, July 10, 2012

An elementary school principal in San Jose has been charged with a misdemeanor for not telling authorities that one of her teachers might have been molesting a second-grade student.

The charge was filed Tuesday against Lyn Vijayendran of O.B. Whaley Elementary School by the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office. It comes six months after the arrest of teacher Craig Chandler, who faces felony charges for lewd and lascivious acts on five students at the school.

One alleged victim and her mother went to Vijayendran in October with complaints about Chandler, according to Deputy District Attorney Alison Filo. They later showed the principal a jacket that had what the district attorney’s office referred to as “a suspicious stain,” but the mother washed the jacket after Vijayendran told her the stain was unimportant.

Filo said the charge is related not to the principal’s motives, but to her legal responsibility as a school employee to tell authorities that an act of molestation might have occurred.

“The message is that the standard here is low – reasonable suspicion. The obligation is mandatory reporting, not mandatory investigation on your own,” Filo said. “We don’t believe she was trying to cover anything up. She just couldn’t fathom this might be happening.”

If convicted, Vijayendran could face up to six months in county jail.

In a statement, Vijayendran’s attorney Eric Geffon said his client, the parents and the school district “had no way of knowing that the conduct was sexual in nature. We are confident that when all the evidence is examined Ms. Vijayendran will be cleared of any wrongdoing.”

Chandler, 35, came to the attention of authorities in January when the parent of another child complained about him to school officials while Vijayendran was on maternity leave. He was arrested within a day. To date, five children have presented allegations against Chandler, who is in custody and awaiting trial.

 

 

John King is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: jking@sfchronicle.com

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