A public safety instructor pleaded not guilty Monday to formal accusations that he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old Hoover High School student.
More than a dozen family members and students appeared in a Glendale courtroom to support Delvon Jackson, 38, of Carson as he faced a total of four felony counts stemming from the alleged conduct.
They stood up during Jackson's arraignment to show their support after his attorney, Winston McKesson, asked them to do so.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Frederick Rotenberg reduced Jackson's bail from $1 million to $400,000 after reviewing the amount originally set by a bail hearing officer last week. Prosecutors had recommended bail be set at $400,000.
Jackson and the girl reportedly engaged in sexual acts three times between Oct. 1 and 14 on the campus in the 600 block of Glenwood Road.
Jackson, an instructor with the Los Angeles County Regional Occupational Program, contracted with the Glendale district to work in the school's Public Safety Academy.
He was the lead police instructor at the academy, a three-year program that coaches teens interested in careers in fire service or law enforcement.
The girl told school staff about Jackson on Oct. 15, which prompted a police investigation into the allegations. School administrators also removed Jackson from any contact with students.
The next day, Jackson was arrested at the Glendale Unified School District offices.
Jackson's wife, Veronica Jackson, said she was concerned about the girl and what prompted her allegations against her husband.
“It makes me want to further look into her house,” she said. “We want to investigate the intent of her allegations.”
Police said Jackson reportedly told students and staff that he had been an officer with the Inglewood Police Department. However, police said he has never worked as an officer.
He reportedly worked as a part-time parking control employee in Inglewood, police said.
Still, Asbed Mardirossian, 17, who attended Monday's hearing, said Jackson was “like a father figure on campus.”
Other students described Jackson as a “good role model.”
High school students also showed up on Friday to support Jackson during his initial court appearance.
The student support is not uncommon, Veronica Jackson said.
“We are a strong, tight-knit family,” she said.
If Jackson is convicted of the alleged acts, he could be sentenced to up to five years in state prison.
The responsibility for supervising contractors like Jackson lies with the district that hires that person, not the Los Angeles County Office of Education, which coordinates the occupational programs.
Kostas Kalaitzidis, spokesman for the county office, said the county office helps coordinate occupational programs in school districts.
“[The Office of Education] does not administer [Regional Occupational] programs in districts. We don't hire. We don't fire. We don't supervise,” he said. “Our goal is to facilitate districts in providing instruction for students within their districts.”
While working for Glendale Unified, Jackson had secured a preliminary career technical education credential from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, according to Maria Gandera, assistant superintendent of human resources.
In order to teach students in Glendale schools, all potential employees must be eligible to attain a credential, if they don't already have one, and their fingerprints must also be cleared in a background check with the U.S. Department of Justice, Gandera said.
Jackson met both those requirements, she added.
Glendale school officials are still in the process of conducting their own investigation into the alleged sexual assault.
Anne Padilla, with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, said the agency conducts a criminal background check on people seeking credentials, according to an email.
Jackson was previously convicted of driving without a valid driver's license, according to records with Los Angeles County Superior Court.
He was also previously arrested on suspicion of battery, but the charge was dismissed, according to court records.
Regarding student safety in Glendale Unified, whenever anyone reports any criminal activity on school grounds, school officials are trained to take immediate action, Gandera said, and they contact either the Glendale Police Department or the Department of Social Services.
“If anybody comes to us and gives us information that something is happening to a child, we are mandated to report it,” Gandera said.