A male classroom aide at The Dalles Middle School was arrested last week and is accused of inappropriately touching two female students at school.
On Monday, Oct. 10, after administrators learned of the allegations, Jose Luis Martinez-Robledo, 48, an English Language Learner aide, was pulled from class and trespassed by the school district from coming back on school property, said Bob Dais, human resources director for the school district.
Martinez-Robledo was placed on paid administrative leave. After investigation by The Dalles Police Department, Martinez-Robledo was arrested on Wednesday, Oct. 12, and booked into the regional jail on two counts of sexual harassment.
On Friday, Oct. 14, Martinez-Robledo was charged with five counts of sexual harassment, a Class A misdemeanor, said Wasco County District Attorney Eric Nisley. The charge is defined as touching a person in a sexual or intimate area.
He remains jailed on $10,000 bail.
Dais said he was meeting with Martinez-Robledo’s union representative Tuesday, and from that meeting Dais would come up with “a recommendation for discipline, which could be up to dismissal.”
Dais said Martinez-Robledo also served as the middle school’s crossing guard and oversaw student crossing guards.
Nisley said in court that Martinez-Robledo had been “removed” from the country in 1997 by immigration officials and that he didn’t believe the man had lawful status.
The regional jail current inmate webpage notes that a federal hold by the U.S. immigration agency has been placed on Martinez-Robledo.
Nisley said it was “virtually certain” that Martinez-Robledo would get prosecuted for illegal re-entry into the United States.
Nisley lauded the school district for acting “very appropriately when it was reported. They took the steps that were necessary to protect the kids when they had good credible evidence about this happening.”
Nisley said this case was “highly unusual and I don’t recall this particular type of activity — I can’t remember this ever happening before in 20 years.”
He said he could not go into specifics about what type of harassment occurred.
According to The Dalles Police, Martinez-Robledo had also been investigated in 2006 and 2007, but charges were not filed either time. In 2006, a student at The Dalles Middle School, where Martinez-Robledo had started working a year earlier, accused him of inappropriately touching her, including tugging her hair, squeezing her leg and asking to touch her rear.
She said when he touched her, he said “Hi.”
Another student the girl listed as a possible witness to him touching her leg instead said that Martinez-Robledo touched the girl on the shoulder. That witness also told a school counselor she “didn’t want to be involved.”
Another student noted that Martinez-Robledo talked to the girl “a lot.”
Martinez-Robledo told police that he would occasionally tug kids’ hair or pat them on the shoulder and say “hi.”
The city declined to file charges, noting in a police report, “due to the fact that Martinez-Robledo was not touching [the girl] with the intent to harass or annoy her and there was no evidence supported by the witnesses that he had, he was not charged with harassment.”
The police report noted it was the school’s decision on whether Martinez-Robledo would return to work. He had been suspended with pay during the investigation, the report noted.
Dais said that after the 2006 investigation Martinez-Robledo received a written reprimand and was “given strict guidelines on how he was to interact with students.”
Dais, who has only been with the district since 2012, said he assumed that with an incident like that, that Martinez-Robledo would be monitored by school administrators.
The middle school has had three principals since 2006.
Dais said it is common for each new principal to be expected to familiarize themselves with all of their employees’ personnel files.
English Language Learner aides work with students in classrooms providing direct support with academics, Dais said.
In 2007, a woman accused Martinez-Robledo of rape, but he said it was consensual, according to city police reports.
The case was determined to be unfounded by the district attorney’s office and no charges were filed, according to the reports.
D21 Supt. Candy Armstrong said the district did not know about the 2007 rape allegation.
As for Martinez-Robledo’s citizenship status, Dais said when employees are hired, they must provide acceptable forms of ID that can be used to verify citizenship status.
“And we ask proof of a Social Security number and we ask proof of an alien or green card if they have one so they can work. And in this case he provided those things and we recorded them,” Dais said.
Dais did not know how many students Martinez-Robledo was working with.
“I can honestly say that our building administrators and district administration are totally attuned to ensuring kids are safe while attending North Wasco County School District,” Dais said.
“We go above and beyond to ensure we have the right people, and there are going to be cases we can’t control, and how we deal with those cases is going to be really important.”
According to Dais, in the last five years, one other school employee in the district has been arrested.
He said that was a case of sexual harassment against another employee.