High School teacher’s arrest calls for bigger discussion

January 30, 2024 /

The teacher at Arvin High School who was arrested during school hours on suspicion of sexual misconduct with a minor has pleaded not guilty. 

Back on November 15, 2023, Michael Parra was arrested on school grounds after the Arvin Police Department received a call regarding his alleged sexual acts with a minor. Parra, 44, had been a manufacturing teacher at Arvin High School since 2021 and had not previously been involved in any incidents or investigations. He has now pleaded not guilty to seven felonies alleging sexual acts with a 17-year-old student.  

“We were literally in so much shock when we heard the news. He seemed like a nice guy, I would have never assumed he was that type of guy. He would bring up his kids and wife a lot, so he sounded like the type of guy to really care about his family,” said Severo Gomez, a Senior at Arvin High School who was in Parra’s Manufacturing 2 class. 

In a society where social media has a great influence on young people, it becomes harder to avoid the prevalence of rape culture present today. Social media depicts many narratives in which it is normalized to partake in relationships with authority figures. A great deal of what is popular today follows storylines that involve people’s sexual desires with minors.

Pretty Little Liars is an example of this. The show portrays a high-school English teacher having a secret affair with a student long after it is discovered that she is underage. Shows such as this do not display the real-life consequences of a relationship with such power dynamics. This type of media is being consumed by younger generations and being passed off as okay. 

According to The Children’s Treatment Center, about 3.5 million students in 8th through 11th grade reported that they have had physical sexual contact with a school official. This number only increases when taking into consideration any other type of sexual misconduct, such as inappropriate language by the teacher; however, it does not include statutory rape.

Statutory rape is defined as sexual relations with a minor when sex is agreed to by both parties, not forced. This is still considered rape because a minor is deemed too young to legally consent to any form of sexual contact, including sex. 

As revealed by The Washington Post, approximately 35 percent of teachers who have been accused or convicted of sexual misconduct have used social media to prey on their victims or continue the student-teacher affair. 

Revealed through court documents, the intercourse between Parra and the underaged student was consensual. Additionally, the student states that she knew Parra was married and unhappy. Parra and the student’s relationship initially began in her Junior year and continued into her Senior year. The student also admitted to allegedly having been sneaked onto campus by Parra where she was then led into the attic of his classroom to lose her virginity. 

According to Severo Gomez, the students knew there was a room up there, but no one was allowed up there. That’s just where they stored supplies.

Parra’s negligent behavior has been the cause of much ruin. It was his wife who found the disturbing conversations between him and his student. Parra’s wife states that she had suspected him of having an affair for months and accessed his phone where she then discovered the sexually explicit text messages on the application known as Snapchat.

Additionally, Parra’s absence has affected his current students. 

“Whenever they took him away we were in the middle of working on a project, which we were excited for. So, since the incident, we haven’t been able to finish it. Plus, I was relying on that project because it was going to help me bump up my grade,” Severo stated. “We were also in the process of filling out and turning in these slips so that we could receive college credit for the class. We have yet to be able to turn them in and now are left wondering if we are going to receive the college credit for the class or not. We also have not been able to do any manufacturing-related work in that class since our school has not been able to find qualified replacements, we have mainly been watching movies.”

Being that Severo is a Senior, these credits are not something to take lightly. It is currently unknown if the Kern County Superintendent of Schools will succeed in finding a replacement for Parra before the end of the school year. 

Severo also states that he has been left feeling uneasy at school since the incident: “A guy that looked and presented themselves to be a regular, nice, and family guy turned out to be an extremely bad person. I now feel that I have to be more cautious because apparently, you can’t even trust your own teachers, someone that you’re supposed to look up to. Now it’s like, if someone like that who seemed like a good person turned out to be a bad person, then it showed me that you can’t really tell who is capable of such things. They say that typically people will show signs but I had Mr. Parra for 2 school years, and I never assumed he would be the type of person to do something like that. This really made me realize that it can be anyone, even the ones you would least expect.” 

Situations like this exemplify the greater conversation that society should be having. How is it that these types of situations keep happening, and what precautions are being taken by the district? 

Kern County Superintendent of Schools (KCSOS) has yet to release a statement regarding this situation. This is only one of the five investigations including misconduct that this district has had this year. 

“I did think it was weird that the school never formally addressed the situation, they didn’t even ask us if we were okay,” said Severo Gomez. “Like our teacher was arrested during school hours and they weren’t going to address it? What are they waiting for?”

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