Parents fill meeting in Parlier concerned about their children's safety

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Parents filled a board of trustees meeting Tuesday night at Parlier Junior High School expressing concerns about student safety. (KFSN)

Parents filled a board of trustees meeting Tuesday night at Parlier Junior High School demanding answers and expressing concerns about student safety.

Families told Action News that the recent arrest of the school's basketball coach is just another example of the district putting kids at risk.

At the meeting parents did not hold back from criticizing school district leaders. Airing grievance after grievance before the board. The common threat amid all the complaints-- parents accusing the district of putting their own gain before the kids.

"The safety of our kids are always being compromised by adults," said Robert Leija, parent.

Over the weekend, the head of the boys' basketball team was arrested for having sex with a minor. Francisco Pena, 37, had been with the school for 3 years and parents are questioning how the alleged crime went unnoticed.

"This is adult cover up and the children are the ones missing out on this, and then we get a child like this who was actually hurt," said Leija.

This isn't the first case either-- Parlier police arrested Anthony Lepore, another basketball coach, for similar offenses in 2014.

Superintendent Edward Lucero didn't have time to speak to us at the meeting, but told Action News previously that both men cleared the Department of Justice's background check when they were hired.

"You know, it's not a good feeling, obviously. Our community has been through a lot over the last couple of years. Continues to go through issues and so forth," said Lucero.

Parents said school leaders should have been more diligent, especially after a previous coach had been arrested.

"The superintendent should have done something, he should have been more aggressive about the type of people he's letting onto the school grounds of our children," said Leija.

Families said they hope the district will make the appropriate changes so the focus moving forward can be on learning rather than damage control.
Related Topics:
educationparlierfresno countyschool safetyParlier
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