Central Texas teacher accused of groping students fired

Ramon Santuario-Mendoza. (Jail photo)
Ramon Santuario-Mendoza. (Jail photo)(KWTX)
Published: Apr. 30, 2019 at 4:10 PM CDT
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The Corsicana School Board, meeting Thursday evening in special session, voted unanimously to terminate the contract of third grade teacher Ramon Santuario-Mendoza, 48, who’s accused of groping female students.

Bonds total $600,000 for the former teacher, who was rearrested Tuesday on warrants charging six additional counts of indecency with a child by contact.

Mendoza was free on $450,000 at the time of his arrest Tuesday.

He was first arrested last Friday and was charged with six counts of indecency with a child by contact.

Mendoza, who was an English as a second language teacher at Sam Houston Elementary School in Corsicana, is accused of fondling female students in his classroom over a period of more than a year, according to affidavits released last week.

Investigators have been interviewing students from Mendoza’s class and the investigation of allegations has been expanded to include the former educator’s previous students, the Corsiciana ISD said in a letter to parents last week.

“He will not be returning to Sam Houston,” the district’s chief administrative officer, Billy Harlan, wrote in the April 24 letter that KWTX obtained on Friday.

In the letter Harlan advised parents that the investigation has been expanded to include fourth grade students who were in his third-grade class during the last school year.”

"I assure you that our district will do everything in our power to see this case through. Sam Houston is a wonderful school with outstanding students, teachers and staff. We will not allow this evil to deter our mission of an excellent education in a safe environment," Harlan wrote.

Mendoza was arrested late in the afternoon on April 22 near Angus in southern Navarro County.

Affidavits submitted for four of the arrest warrants were based on the responses of the alleged victims during forensic interviews conducted at the Navarro County Child Advocacy Center.

One girl, who made an outcry to her parents on April 17, told the interview that Mendoza “touched her breast multiple times under her shirt,” during the current school year according to the affidavit.

She told the interviewer, “Mr. Mendoza would tell her to come to his desk and read to him (and then) would untuck her shirt and put his hand up her shirt touching her breast,” according to the affidavit.

A victim who made an outcry to her parents on April 18, described a similar incident that occurred during the current school year.

“Mr. Mendoza would come to her desk area during tests, crouch down next to her and put his hand up her shirt touching her breast.” Also occurred while she was standing at his desk.

She told the interviewer that “Mr. Mendoza also put his hand up her shirt touching her breast while she was standing at Mr. Mendoza’s desk,” the affidavit said.

A girl who made an outcry to her parents on April 21 described an alleged incident that occurred during the 2017-2018 school year in which Mendoza had her touch his genitals.

The girl said she was at the teacher’s desk “and Mendoza held her hand and then pulled it down to his lap” and then rubbed her hand over his genitals outside of his clothing, according to the affidavit.

The fourth alleged incident, involved a girl who made an outcry to her parents on April 21 and then told interviewers that Mendoza touched her genitals.

She told the interviewer that “while at Mendoza’s desk Mendoza asked her to come sit on his lap….then put his hand down her pants between her pants and underwear” and rubbed his hand on her genitals over her underwear.

On April 17, the same day the first victim made an outcry, parents were notified in a message from the district’s chief operations officer, Billy Harlan, that Mendoza had been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of unspecified allegations.

Another teacher was assigned to the class, Harlan's message said.

District police officials met with parents on April 23 at the school

Only parents were allowed to attend the meeting, but one parent, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the officials discussed the difference between sexual contact and sexual abuse.

The campus police officials told parents they plan to interview four children on Wednesday, three on Thursday and other children throughout next week.

The Corsicana ISD said earlier Tuesday it’s taking the situation “very seriously.”

“Our investigation is ongoing,” Corsicana ISD spokeswoman Susan Johnson said Tuesday.

“We want any parents that think their children may have been involved in this situation to contact the CISD Police Department.”

“They are on top of things,” she said.

Mendoza was certified in April 2014 to teach at the elementary level from early childhood through the sixth grade, according to Texas Education Agency records.

The certification is valid until Nov. 30.

In December 2018, he received supplemental certification as an English as Second Language teacher.

That certification is also valid until Nov. 30.

Mendoza is the third Corsicana educator this year to be accused of wrongdoing.

Former Corsicana ISD teacher and coach Jackie Ray Grace, Jr., 39, was arrested on Jan. 26 and was charged with three counts of improper relationship between educator and student.

A Navarro County grand jury indicted Grace on three counts of sexual assault in April.

Prosecutors said he couldn’t be charged with improper relationship because the three-year statute of limitations had run, according to published reports.

The same grand jury declined to indict a CISD elementary school aide accused of dragging a 5-year-old developmentally disabled student across a floor in March, leaving him with a carpet burn on the head.

The district employed Grace from 2011 to 2016 when he left to pursue another job opportunity, district officials said at the time.

Officials said they didn’t learn of the allegations until two weeks before the arrest and reported them to police.

Grace coached girls’ softball and cross country.

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