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BREAKING: Investigation underway in complaint against educator

vermilion parish sheriff.PNG
Posted at 12:43 PM, Apr 27, 2023

KATC Investigates is working on a story about an investigation into an Acadiana educator.

We reached out to law enforcement after several viewers sent us a video that apparently shows the man, shirtless, saying sexually suggestive things to a person he says he tutors. The Vermilion Parish Sheriff's Office has confirmed that they received a complaint about this individual, and that an investigation is underway.

An internet search indicates that the man, Jacob Delapaz, was coaching at St. Thomas More as recently as this week. His photo and name have been removed from the school's website as of this afternoon. Other public records show he was working at North Vermilion High School as recently as 2022.

We reached out to St. Thomas More for comment, but they directed us to the Diocese. We also reached out to the Diocese and are waiting to hear back. In the meantime, we've obtained a message sent to parents by the school's chancellor, Rev. Michael J. Russo.

The message states that questions and concerns arose involving Delapaz.

"While the school is not at liberty to extensively discuss personnel matters due to legal restrictions, we can confirm that Mr. De La Paz is no longer employed by or associated with STM in any capacity as of yesterday," the message states. "We can also confirm that we have no reports, evidence or reason to believe that Mr. De La Paz engaged in any type of inappropriate behavior or misconduct with any students at STM. On the contrary, by all accounts, he has been very effective as a teacher and coach with no complaints against him."

The message also lays out several points:

  1. "Whenever a teacher is hired at STM, due diligence is done by the school to check the person’s background and qualifications. De La Paz came highly recommended by his former employer after an extended period of exemplary service, had passed a background check in Vermillion Parish and passed our own. He was also safe environment trained. STM was made aware, up-front by Mr. De La Paz, of an isolated and imprudent infraction in his past. Having passed a probation period and performing well (and without further incident) in his previous teaching position, Mr. De La Paz was offered a position at STM and, again, proved to be exceedingly effective as both a teacher and a coach."
  2. "Whenever a faculty member or student departs, there can be deep pain and sorrow for those involved, including extended family members and friends. As followers of Jesus, we are called to be sensitive to this fact – that people are hurting. I ask that you join me in prayer for all involved, for God’s healing and for hearts to mend."
  3. "Finally, I assure you that the school is handling this situation in accord with proper legal procedures and diocesan policies. As always, I ask for your continued trust of our efforts as STM continues to strive for excellence in the formation of the mind, body and soul, staying rooted in our mission to form disciples according to Gospel truths and values."

We spoke to Vermilion Parish Superintendent Tommy Byler, who told us Delapaz "applied for a math position with the Vermilion Parish School System in August of 2017. At the time of application he indicated that his Arkansas teaching certificate was under review for an allegation of texting a student.
"In conversations with the Arkansas Board of Education, we were told that a hearing would be held but that in the meantime his license and his eligibility for employment until the time of his Board of Education hearing had no restrictions. He was eligible for employment in Arkansas at the time. In addition, the laws that govern Louisiana certification also declared him eligible for employment.

"He was hired on a temporary one-year only status based on the Arkansas DOE clearance and Louisiana Dept of Education approval. All of these certifications were verified by the Vermilion Parish School System personnel department. He also had to undergo a criminal background check that came back with no criminal charges.

"Upon completion of his Arkansas hearing, in which no disqualifying or criminal charges were found, he applied for and received his Louisiana Department of Education certificate in September of 2019 upon approval and clearance from the Arkansas and Louisiana Departments of Education.

"He was employed in Vermilion until June of 2022."

We'll have more on this case later today on KATC TV-3.

Below are the documents from Jacob De La Paz's Arkansas hearing:

Below are the document from the Arkansas State Board of Education: