MONTEBELLO — Montebello police arrested a female Roosevelt High School Spanish teacher from Montebello late Wednesday on suspicion of carrying on sexual relationships with two boys while they were her students, authorities said.
Gabriela Cortez, 42, of Montebello was arrested about 6 p.m. Wednesday and booked on suspicion of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, according to Montebello police officials and county booking records.
Both of the victims are now adults, police said. Cortez teaches at Roosevelt High School in East Los Angeles, which is operated by the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The relationships took place between 2008 and 2010, Montebello police Lt. Luis Lopez said, while the victims were between the ages of 16 and 17.
Both former students were believed to have been involved in “long-term” relationships with the teacher, Lopez added.
One of the men came forward Feb. 15 and reported the alleged misconduct, launching an investigation, the lieutenant said.
“It appears that the first victim, it was on his mind,” Lopez said. It was not immediately clear of the arrest of six other LAUSD teachers in the past month on suspicion of molesting students played a role in his decision to come forward.
Police informed the school of the investigation the day the allegations were made, and the district “took immediate action,” removing Cortez from contact with students.
Detectives were able to corroborate the information provided by the first victim, Lopez said, and the investigation further revealed a second young man who also is believed to have been involved in a sexual relationship with Cortez.
School officials first learned of the first student’s allegation from his family on the evening of Feb. 14, said Patrick Sinclair, spokesman for the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools — a coalition of 22 LAUSD schools and the City of Los Angeles designed to turn around low-performing campuses. Roosevelt High is part of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.
Officials were prepared to place her on administrative leave the following day, “but she called in sick,” Sinclair said.
When she returned to work Thursday, she was immediately placed on administrative leave, “pending the investigation,” he added.
Once police arrested Cortez Wednesday evening, “Then we moved in full force to inform the entire school community as to what’s going on,” Sinclair said.
Parents received recorded phone calls regarding the arrest in both English and Spanish, he said, and students were sent home with bilingual letters Thursday afternoon.
A parent meeting will be held later this week, Sinclair said.
“All of the students from her classes have been pulled out and talked to,” Sinclair said. Counseling was offered as well, he said.
She has taught at Roosevelt High School since 1994, Sinclair said, and began her teaching career with the LAUSD in 1988 at Soto Street Elementary School.
According to county booking records, Cortez was released from jail Wednesday night after posting $140,000 bail.
She could not be reached for comment Thursday.
She was scheduled to appear March 22 for an arraignment in East Los Angeles Superior Court, officials added.
There was no indication that other victims were involved, Lopez said, “However, it’s always a possibility.”
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to call Montebello police Detective Andrade at 323-887-1255.
PHOTO of Gabriela Cortez courtesy of the Montebello Police Department.