School Employee Arrested For Molesting A Child

An aide at Zia Middle School has been arrested for reportedly touching a student inside the school's bathroom.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Zia middle school

Parents want more school transparency. The need for this has been gaining the attention of the media and governments across the United States as more reports of things like indoctrination and critical race theory take center stage. But the need for this transparency isn’t just in regards to children’s education, but also their safety inside schools. Reports of abuse and sexual misconduct seem to have only worsened over the last decade, and now another state is suffering from another report of student harm coming from a public school employee. Last Friday, an educational assistant was arrested for accusations alegging that he sexually abused a student at Zia Middle School.

Charles Lee Lucero was an educational assistant at the Zia Middle School in Las Cruces, New Mexico. According to reports, the incident was first reported by another educational assistant at the school, Mesilla Marshalls. In the statement of facts collected by KFox14 news, Marshalls overhead a conversation between Lucero and a student he aided in the school’s bathroom. Marshall states that he heard the student ask Lucero, “please don’t touch my privates.” A spokesperson for Marshall also claimed that the student’s behavior would change whenever Lucero was around him. 

Marshall reported what he knew to Zia Middle School Principal Kathleen Gardner, who is being assumed to have alerted authorities. Furthermore, it is being reported that the student disclosed that he had been molested twice over the last few years by Lucero to a La Piñon forensic interviewer. Currently, the education assistant is being held in the Doña Ana County Detention Center without bond as the details surrounding the sexual-misconduct case unfold. 

Zia middle school

Since Charles Lucero is being called an educational assistant, it is also assumed that he worked as a paraprofessional aid to the student at Zia Middle School. Paraprofessionals aren’t necessarily held up to the same credential standards teachers are. Similarly, each state, and even each school district has its own set of laws dictating what qualifications a person must have to work as an aide inside schools. However, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) does enforce some regulations across the board for schools in the United States.

Enacted by President Obama in 2015, the ESSA was passed to expand the federal government’s role in public education. Part of the bill focused on new mandates for students with disabilities. Under the law, schools like Zia Middle Schoola are required to make sure their paraprofessionals hold a high school degree or equivalent. They also have to meet one of three of the following requirements: two years of study at a college or technical school,  hold an associate or higher degree, or be able to prove through assessment that they know about and can assist disabled students. 

As more information waits to be unraveled regarding the Zia Middle School education assistant sexual misconduct case, the issue continues to be a concerning problem in public education. According to information released by Politico in 2020, schools across the United States reported nearly 15,000 incidents of sexual violence in the 2017-2018 school year alone. Those reports were a steep 55% increase from the prior year. And as issues like this continue to pour in, it’s evident that districts need to better address the process of investigating all employees working in public schools.