Visalia School District to review policies after teacher arrested for sex with minor

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A Visalia band coach is out on bail, two days after being arrested on suspicion of having sex with an underage student. (KFSN)

A Visalia band coach is out on bail, two days after being arrested on suspicion of having sex with an underage student.

Visalia police said the inappropriate relationship started in April while 48-year-old Derek Nishimoto was working as a volunteer band coach at Mt. Whitney High School. They also said his sexual relationship with an underage female lasted for months.

The victim was a Mt. Whitney student but has since graduated. Police said her family called them on Saturday to report the inappropriate relationship and the investigation started.

"We had plenty of information to believe a crime had occurred on several occasions," Damon Maurice with the Visalia Police Department said. "We met with the suspect later that afternoon and interviewed him and based on that information, the arrest of Mr. Nishimoto was conducted and he was booked into the Tulare County Jail for several counts of sexual assault."

Nishimoto was a paid, volunteer drumline coach with Mt. Whitney since the fall of 2010. The district said he stopped volunteering after this spring but came back to help coach summer band camp.

He hasn't volunteered with the school since July. Visalia Unified School District officials said Nishimoto went through the same process as teachers and staff when he was hired.

"So, we do background checks," said Tamara Ravalin, who is VUSD's Vice Superintendent of HR Development. "They're fingerprinted and we receive information from the DOJ as well as FBI, so state and federal background checks and clearances."

A bio page for Nishimoto on the website said he also worked with various high school bands around the Central Valley, including El Diamonte High School. It also said he's been an active percussionist since 1980.

"You know when this sort of thing happens, we're shocked and distraught as well," Ravalin said. "We do our very best to protect our students and our staff from anything like this from occurring."

The district said they will be reviewing their policies and procedures to make sure this doesn't happen again and, for the safety of students, they said they can't currently employ Nishimoto.

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