Lawsuit: Teacher unzipped pants, fondled himself in front of first graders

Image courtesy of KRQE

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — An embattled charter school in New Mexico is being sued over allegations a substitute teacher unzipped his pants, fondled himself in front of first grade students and inappropriately touched a girl.

Attorneys representing the family of a 6-year-old girl say substitute teacher Ted Padilla engaged in criminal sexual behavior at La Promesa Learning Center.

“He touched her inappropriately. He also took advantage of other children in the class and exposed himself inappropriately to other children,” said attorney Kelly Stout Sanchez.

The lawsuit surfaced a day after APS board member Analee Maestas was sworn in as secretary. Maestas, the one-time executive director of La Promesa, has been named in a civil lawsuit, along with La Promesa itself and Padilla.

The alleged incident occurred at the northwest Albuquerque campus in September 2015. Albuquerque police were notified and conducted an investigation.

Padilla was never arrested, but the District Attorney’s Office confirms it is reviewing this case for possible prosecution.

“It’s our belief that there are plenty of indications that he never should have been hired at La Promesa, and he certainly never should have been left unsupervised,” said attorney Michael Hart, who also represents the family of the girl.

Padilla, a veteran educator in New Mexico, denied the allegations, speaking to WAVY sister station KRQE News 13 at his home.

“I’ve very embarrassed, and I’ve been accused of something horrible, and it’s not true,” he said.

Padilla, who did not want to show his face on camera, declined to comment further at this point, citing advice from his attorney.

The New Mexico Public Education Department, Cooperative Educational Services, Kelly Services, Inc., Earlier Learning Solutions, Inc. and are also named as defendants.

The suit alleges negligence and the girl’s family is suing for medical and psychological bills, emotional pain and suffering, physical pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and for economic damages.

The state is in the process of stripping La Promesa of its charter because of questionable financial practices and poor academic performance.

The family of the girl that’s suing wanted to make it clear through their attorneys that they are supportive of La Promesa’s new administration.

“This kind of event would never happen with the people who are running the school now,” Hart said.