Teacher faces child sex abuse charges

The Washington Post Sunday - - COMMUTER - BY EMMA BROWN emma.brown@wash­post.com

A teacher at a high-per­form­ing D.C. char­ter school was ar­rested Fri­day on charges of child sex abuse, ac­cord­ing to po­lice and school of­fi­cials.

Po­lice said Saturday that Manuel Gar­cia Fer­nan­dez, 35, had sex­ual con­tact on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions with two fe­male vic­tims and one male vic­tim from Aug. 17 to Feb. 6. He was charged with three counts of sec­ond-de­gree child sex­ual abuse.

Fer­nan­dez taught at a North­east Wash­ing­ton cam­pus of the Latin Amer­i­can Montes­sori Bilin­gual (LAMB) Pub­lic Char­ter School, ac­cord­ing to an email to par­ents from the school’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Diane Cottman. The school’s web­site listed him as an ele­men­tary teacher.

Fer­nan­dez has been banned from LAMB’s premises, Cottman wrote Fri­day. She said the school had com­mu­ni­cated with par­ents in the “im­pacted com­mu­nity” but could not dis­close fur­ther de­tails.

“We know that this will raise many ques­tions which we are cur­rently not at lib­erty to an­swer and or may not be able to an­swer,” she wrote. “These al­le­ga­tions have deeply af­fected the en­tire LAMB com­mu­nity — the board, teach­ers, par­ents and stu­dents alike. LAMB is com­mit­ted to its fam­i­lies, and the safety and well-be­ing of our stu­dents is our para­mount con­cern.”

Cottman did not re­spond to a re­quest for fur­ther com­ment.

LAMB, which also has a cam­pus in North­west, en­rolled a to­tal of about 375 stu­dents in preschool through fifth grade last school year. It is one of the most highly re­garded char­ter schools in the city.

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