SACRAMENTO, CA - A substitute teacher faces dismissal for what he said was an innocent attempt to amuse a group of 12-year-old girls.
Steven Hatamiya, 61, was sent home from the Westside Preparatory Charter School Frontier campus following the Oct. 16 incident during a physical education class and the Twin Rivers Unified School District is conducting an investigation that could bar him from future work at any district school.
Parents said Hatamiya separated the coed class of 7th graders, allowing the boys to play flag football while he spent the better part of an hour talking to the girls, who were not allowed to play.
Candy Millan, the mother of one of the girls, said Hatamiya used offensive language and told at least one adult joke that shocked the students.
"It is so far past inappropriate," Millan said.
Millan said her daughter and several other girls reported the incident to another 7th grade teacher, who notified the principal.
Principal Ellen Giffin sent a letter home the following day telling parents that she had interviewed students and Hatamiya about the incident, and assured them Hatamiya would not be returning to the school.
In an interview at his home, Hatamiya said he split the girls from the boys to protect them.
"It's not appropriate for the boys to be touching the girls," Hatamiya said. "I didn't want the girls to get hurt so I separated them."
Hatamiya admitted telling jokes to the girls but said it was only later that he realized they might not have been appropriate for 12-year-olds.
He was at a loss when asked to explain what his talk with the girls had to do with physical education.
"We were playing," he said.
Twin Rivers spokesperson Zenobia Gerald said Hatamiya had been working as a substitute in the district since 2006 and administrators had never before received any complaints from parents or students.
Gerald said Hatamiya had been blocked from working at any Twin Rivers school pending the outcome of a formal investigation expected to be completed next week.
By George Warren, GWarren@news10.net