South Valley charter school director accused of holding box cutter to student’s neck

South Valley charter school director accused of holding box cutter to student’s neck

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The executive director of South Valley Academy charter school is accused of threatening a student with a box cutter, according to court documents.

A warrant for Richard Perea, 58, of Albuquerque, on the charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault, and an open count of child abuse was filed in court on Wednesday. The incident between Perea and a 17-year-old student allegedly happened on April 18.

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Perea reportedly wrapped his arm around the student’s neck and pressed the box cutter to the student’s neck while sliding it from one side to the other, according to the student’s statement contained in the criminal complaint for Perea.

Two school security officers were in Perea’s office at the time of the incident and told investigators that they witnessed Perea’s actions. One of the security officers reported that Perea told the student to “stand up I’m gonna show you what a Chicano man does,” before Perea held the blade up to the student’s neck, according to the court document. Before that, the student claimed Perea aimed the box cutter at his neck and said, “boom jugular vein.”

The school security officers were tasked by Perea to bring the student into his office on suspicion that he was vaping in the school’s bathroom. School officials searched the student and found the box cutter in his possession.

The student reportedly told school officials that he had the box cutter to use during the school’s service learning program at a local ranch. The student said his duties require a box cutter to open packages. He also allegedly acknowledged that he should not have had the box cutter with him at school, according to court documents.

The alleged incident between Perea and the student was reported to the school’s assistant educational director, who then told the student’s mother. Court documents did not specify if the student was physically injured.

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At a special meeting Wednesday night, all five members of the South Valley Academy Governing Council voted to reinstate Perea as executive director. The council president made the following remark after the vote:

“Seeing how all board members voted in affirmative for this action, it shows governing council is behind Mr. Perea and does support him through this matter and this process
One thing we have learned as governing council is that we do need to look at our policies and protocols in order to increase transparency going forward in any situations, like this that arise, to be able to include the community. Right now we do not have those protocols in place.”

Governing Council President Anna Trillo

The council also said that it did hire a third-person investigator who was not associated with the school to do an investigation of this matter and to make sure that there were no allegations of sexual misconduct.

KRQE News 13 reached out to the council members for comment on Thursday. Governing Council Vice President Sergio Schwartz sent the following statement:

Student safety is and has been among our highest of priorities.  We have recently been made aware of possible criminal proceedings involving the Executive Director, and the South Valley Academy is cooperating with the Bernalillo County Sherriff’s Office.  The Executive Director is on administrative leave, and School is moving forward to complete the school year for its students and staff.  If parents or guardians of students have any School-related questions or concerns and questions specific to their child’s educational experience at SVA, we encourage them to reach out to the School’s administration.

Governing Council Vice President Sergio Schwartz

When KRQE News 13 asked Schwartz to clarify on Perea’s employment status, given the council’s recent vote, he referred KRQE back to his statement.

Many community members and faculty expressed their thoughts on the situation before the council voted Wednesday night. “What has occurred, I am not in agreement with my student coming back to the school,” said the mother of the victim at the special meeting.

“For the sake of protecting the safety of our students and staff, said individual who has potentially imposed a danger to a student, should not be allowed to return to our school,” said Joshuah Cordova, a South Valley Academy teacher.

Others showed support for Perea.

“The type of management skill that he uses, I see it comprehensively affecting our school in a positive way,” said Felipe Ruibal, a teacher at South Valley Academy.

The New Mexico Public Education Department said that it has opened an investigation into the matter.

South Valley Academy is chartered through Albuquerque Public Schools. KRQE News 13 also reached out to APS for comment and was told, “APS is not involved in the day-to-day operations of charter schools and cannot comment on anything happening at South Valley Academy.”

According to Perea’s bio on the school’s website, he served as principal at Santa Rosa High School, vice principal of Moriarty High School, had a Mid/High Principalship at Jemez Mountain Schools, and served as superintendent of Santa Rosa Consolidated Schools.

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