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The Janitor SBHS Doesn’t Want You To Talk About

When I first heard of the José Reyes Arroyo incident, I thought it was going to be an open and shut story, but that was definitely not the case. If you didn’t know, Arroyo was a former  SBHS janitor who was arrested on some very disturbing charges. Arroyo was arrested on Saturday, September 12, 2020, on felony counts of  “continuous sexual abuse of a child, possession or control of child pornography, and a misdemeanor of “””Invade Privacy: Look Through Holes/Etc’” according to the Santa Barbara Police Station. Interestingly enough this isn’t even his first crime, Arroyo had FIVE charges on his name before he started working at SBHS. Four of the charges were DUI’s and he has a mysterious felony that I couldn’t find any more information about. (cited: Santa Barbara News Press September 23, 2020 and Noozhawk September 22, 2020). I’m very surprised that the high school would even hire someone with a felony. Is finding a janitor so hard for the high school that it’s acceptable if he has many crimes on his rap sheet? Did they overlook it or did they not do their research? 

According to Brian Tanguay, “The person cannot begin working until the results of the Livescan are received and reviewed by Human Resources and a determination made that no criminal infractions, such as for violent crimes, illegal substances, or sexual abuse, exist that would prohibit the person from working in a public school.” Mr Tanguay is the coordinator of classified personnel for the HR department of Santa Barbara Unified School District. I believe that people who have been arrested should still have an opportunity to work. But I also believe that there should be more thought put into such a process when hiring. We’re not just talking about hiring at your local Subway. We’re talking about hiring at a school full of minors. I can understand that someone with four DUIs could get hired but when you think about it, it shows how reckless that person is. It shows that he is willing to put others’ lives at risk while driving under the influence of alcohol FOUR times.

What is a school to do in such a predicament? Shouldn’t the parents be informed properly and on time? It makes it seem like there is more going on behind the scenes; is there? When I first started my research on this case, the articles I read said Arroyo was a custodian for the district. Nowhere did it say that Arroyo worked for SBHS. I had to find the information on the job website, Indeed. When it was time for the district to address this issue at a board meeting it wasn’t brought up. When it was time to raise awareness, it almost seemed like they didn’t want to. Santa Barbara News Press said “This wasn’t addressed during the board meeting Tuesday night. Instead, board and community members discussed COVID-19 at length.”  

Another very interesting piece of information that may be questionable is the decision from the Santa Barbara Police Department that this is just an isolated domestic matter, when in my opinion it should be looked at from a different angle . Here’s why: with a charge like invasion of privacy, wouldn’t it make a lot of sense if Arroyo was also inappropriately invading our students’ privacy. Why wouldn’t he be doing the same things he’s charged for where he works? He had access to hundreds of kids… it just doesn’t make any sense not to consider that as a possibility and warn students. 

With such a circumstance for the high school to unravel themselves from, I think it is most important to look at the past mistakes rather than the future obstacles in this situation. I personally feel that a change may be needed in the hiring process to ensure the safety of our students.

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