A Texas teacher, accused of sexual misconduct with a minor, taught for roughly two years at a public charter school on a revoked state educator’s license.
Daniel Marcus Valdez, an IDEA Public Schools teacher and coach, was arrested by Jim Wells County deputies on Friday evening after he purportedly tried to hook up romantically with a middle school girl. She lived in Alice, a suburb of Corpus Christi. Valdez, 37, taught at the South Flores Academy, a charter school in San Antonio. Apparently, he drove 125 miles from his residence with the intention of having sex with the female minor, according to the Alice Echo News Journal.
Allegedly, Valdez met the girl over social media. The relationship escalated and he sent her sexually explicit images of himself. Also, he asked her to become intimate with him. She got scared and told her parents about the situation. They contacted Alice authorities, who, in turn, opened an investigation and conducted an undercover sting operation to nab the suspect.
It remains unclear how officers intervened online to arrange the rendezvous between Valdez and the middle school girl but they set up a vacant apartment as the meeting place. Valdez showed up. Instead of finding the underage girl inside, he faced Jim Wells County deputies. Officers charged Valdez with the online solicitation of a minor, a third degree felony. They booked him into the Jim Wells County jail on a $30,000 bond.
On Saturday, Valdez made bail. KHOU reported he tried to return to work Monday but the school released a statement saying they put him on administrative leave beginning that day. “IDEA Public Schools is committed to ensuring the safety of our students on the road to and through college,” officials noted. “As this remains an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment any further.” They directed inquiries to Jim Wells County police. The academy added they are “cooperating fully with the investigation.”
Jim Wells County Sheriff’s Department officers spoke to reporters Monday.
“It’s a scary situation when an adult preys on girls or boys,” commented Sheriff Daniel Bueno. He urged parents to keep a watchful eye on their children. “Parents, remember, these are your phones. Check them, see who they are talking with, and what they are doing online.”
Lt. Alan Gonzalez said investigators found alcohol and condoms inside Valdez’s car. Since apprehending the suspect, police said they received similar complaints from other San Antonio-area parents about Valdez. Gonzalez said some allegations go as far back as 2004 from women now over 18-years-old.
On Tuesday, IDEA’s South Flores Academy said they fired Valdez.
Prior to his employment at the charter chain, Valdez taught in the San Antonio Independent School District from 2004 to 2006 and during the 2012-13 school year. Between 2006 and 2011, he worked at South San Antonio ISD. Following a teacher-student improper relationship investigation opened in 2013, the TEA revoked his license on December 11, 2015, even though he was not charged.
Vanessa Barry, an IDEA Public Schools spokeswoman explained how this fell through the cracks. She told the San Antonio Express-News that Valdez’s teaching certification was valid when they hired him in September 2015. She admitted that, even so, he was under investigation at the time and “we should have caught this red flag.”
Barry added: “Effective immediately, we are implementing an annual criminal background check and certification review to prevent situations such as this from happening again.”
The Texas Rangers, a division of the state’s Department of Public Safety that conducts criminal investigations, assisted in this case.
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