From staff and wire reports:
A missing schoolteacher from South Gate apparently committed suicide in the Angeles National Forest, it was reported Sunday.
Rigoberto Ruelas, 39, a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School, was last seen last Sunday dropping off a present for his sister’s birthday, according to the South Gate Police Department.
Ruelas notified the school he would need a substitute teacher assigned for his classes on Monday and Tuesday, but he did not show up to work on Wednesday and had not called in, police said. His family reported him missing that day.
Ruelas’ body was found just before 9 a.m. in the forest, said Deputy Jeff Gordon of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau.
“(Sheriff’s deputies) had been conducting training exercises near the Big Tujunga Canyon area of the Angeles National Forest,” he said. “On Big Tujunga Canyon Road near mile marker 6.6, they located a vehicle connected to Rigoberto Ruelas, who had been reported missing. A subsequent search in the ravine approximately 100 feet below a nearby bridge lead to the discovery of Rigoberto Ruelas, who was deceased.”
Suicide was suspected, authorities reportedly said.
Family members told a TV station that he scored low on a teacher rating report recently published by the Los Angeles Times, and that may have caused Ruelas to go missing.
The newspaper’s database lists Ruelas as being “less effective than average overall,” “Less effective than average in math,” and “average in English.”
The Times’ analysis of teacher performance took into account available student scores on standardized tests between 2002 and 2009.
“The value-added scores reflect a teacher’s effectiveness at raising standardized test scores and, as such, capture only one aspect of a teacher’s work,” reads a disclaimer on the online database of teachers.
“Although value-added measures do not capture everything that goes into making a good teacher or school, The Times decided to make the ratings available because they bear on the performance of public employees who provide an important service, and in the belief that parents and the public have a right to the information,” according to the website.
The study looked at about 6,000 third-, fourth- and fifth-grade teachers at 470 Los Angeles elementary schools.
Family members reportedly said Ruelas had been a teacher for 14 years, with near perfect attendance.