Foothill High School director of bands Efrain Hinojosa faces a criminal charge this week for an alleged sex crime against a teenage student 10 years ago during his time working in the Ceres school district just outside Modesto, the Weekly has learned.
Hinojosa, 40, was arrested on the Foothill campus in Pleasanton on Dec. 6 just before school started at 7:48 a.m. by the Ceres Police Department on suspicion of multiple charges of sex crimes against a minor.
A formal charge of oral copulation against a minor was filed by the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office late Wednesday afternoon, according to Ceres police, but a copy of the criminal complaint was not immediately available.
Hinojosa, who has worked in the full-time teaching position as bands director at Foothill for more than six years, was placed on administrative leave as of his arrest and that leave will be unpaid now that charges have been filed, according to Pleasanton Unified School District spokesman Patrick Gannon.
Gannon said the case does not involve a Pleasanton student. The Pleasanton Police Department confirmed Hinojosa has not been the subject of any investigation by the department.
Hinojosa was released from jail after posting bail following his arrest last week and has not yet been arraigned in court, according to the DA's office.
Attempts to reach Hinojosa on Wednesday were unsuccessful. It was not immediately clear whether he was represented by an attorney yet.
Foothill principal Sebastian Bull informed the school community about Hinojosa's criminal charges in a statement released Wednesday night.
"I can confirm that the Ceres Police Department, who have been leading the investigation, notified us that the charges have no connection to his work in our District and relate to a single incident in another community," Bull stated. "Mr. Hinojosa is on leave from work and not allowed on any PUSD campus.
"I realize that this concerning information may raise many questions among our members of our school community. The District is limited in the information that we receive and can offer – however we are committed to providing students with the support they need during this time," Bull continued, adding:
"While it is difficult to share and hear this unsettling information, I did want to be forthright with our school community about this situation. We understand that this news is upsetting and encourage students to reach out to a trusted adult – we will have additional counselors and support available on campus.Students and families are also encouraged to utilize PUSD’s Wellness and Self-Care Resources for Teens."
PUSD is working to recruit a certificated teacher or retiree to serve as the interim band director at Foothill as soon as possible, according to Gannon.
Hinojosa taught AP music theory, color guard and percussion classes at Foothill, as well as led the Falcons' wind ensemble, symphonic band and concert band, according to his biography on the Foothill website.
Educated at California State University Stanislaus, Hinojosa was employed as band director at Central Valley High School in Ceres from August 2010 to June 2016, and also previously worked at Granite Bay High School in Granite Bay and Lincoln High School in Stockton, according to his bio.
According to authorities, the investigation that started last month centered on Hinojosa's time at Central Valley High about a decade ago.
"Recently, Ceres Unified School District personnel was made aware of allegations of inappropriate conduct against former Central Valley High School music teacher Efrain Hinojosa," Beth Parker Jimenez, communications specialist for CUSD, told the Weekly.
"Upon learning of these allegations, staff immediately contacted local law enforcement and cooperated with the police investigation," she said.
Ceres police said they were informed on Nov. 8 of allegations against Hinojosa "related to having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a high school student approximately 10 years ago."
Detectives from Ceres investigated the case and arrested Hinojosa at the high school on Foothill Road in Pleasanton on the morning of Dec. 6 on suspicion of multiple counts of statutory rape and oral copulation. The DA's office ultimately filed one count of oral copulation against Hinojosa on Wednesday, according to police.
Hinojosa remains out of custody after posting bail on the day of his arrest to get released from the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center, police said.
"Both the Pleasanton Unified School District and the Ceres Unified School District have been cooperative in this matter," police said.
The Ceres PD investigation is ongoing and anyone with information related to the case can contact Detective Julio Amador at 209-538-5729 or email at Julio.Amador@ci.ceres.ca.us. Anonymous tips can be sent to the Stanislaus area "Crime stoppers" hotline at 1-866-60-CRIME or 209-521-4636.