Spring Valley

Steele Canyon High staff member arrested for giving alcohol to students

Regular lessons were interrupted for an arrest at Steele Canyon High School on Tuesday afternoon

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A staff member at Steele Canyon High School in Spring Valley was accused Tuesday of being drunk at work and giving alcohol to students.

Sheriff's investigators arrested 23-year-old Zechariah Oakley, who works with students as an aide in the special education program at the charter school. According to sheriff’s intake records, Oakley is charged with two counts contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one count of disorderly conduct under the influence of alcohol, all misdemeanors.

A parent of one of the students involved tells NBC 7 that his son and two other sophomores were told to go into the teacher assistants’ office, which is connected to the classroom but behind closed doors. He says they were given a clear liquid in a water bottle, and they discovered only after they took a drink that it was alcohol. Later in the day, a teacher discovered the alcohol and reported it, the parent said.

Parents are outraged that the most vulnerable of the student population was the target.

“Bullying, drugs, that kind of stuff, peer pressure. That never came up on my list of topics to talk to my kids about," parent Sylvia Porter said.

In part of an email sent to Steele Canyon parents on Tuesday, CEO and principal Scott Parr wrote:

“We immediately notified the parents of the students involved in the incident and released them to their families this afternoon. We are appropriately treating the students as victims.

"The District is placing the employee on leave pending the completion of their investigation and will take swift and appropriate disciplinary action based on the outcome.”

The State Commission on Teacher Credentialing records indicate Oakley was operating on a valid 30-day substitute teaching permit.

“My head goes to a lot of other places like why in the world would you supply any kind of drug or alcohol to someone who could. It’s dangerous,” parent Hilary Lass said.

Parents NBC 7 spoke with give Steele Canyon High administration and staff high marks, but this incident shakes their confidence in the pool of available educators.

In the email to district parents, the principal indicated special education staff at Steele Canyon High are employees of the Grossmont Union High School District.

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