Marshall Elementary teacher arrested on suspicion of child abuse

A beloved Marshall Elementary School teacher who has been on paid administrative leave since mid-December for a serious incident involving a student at the Mission District school has been arrested.

Andres Tobar, a 47-year-old South San Francisco resident, turned himself in to San Francisco police at 11:35 a.m. on Tuesday after an investigation on the suspicion of child abuse was launched against him earlier this month, according to police.

The investigation resulted in the issuance of a warrant for Tobar’s arrest by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

SEE RELATED: S.F. school district failed to notify parents about ‘serious’ incident involving teacher

Tobar, a bilingual teacher at Marshall for more than two decades, was revered by students and parents alike for his dedication. Earlier this month, after school district leaders failed to inform parents about the incident and Tobar’s leave, some 30 parents stormed the San Francisco Unified School District headquarters, demanding answers and advocating for Tobar’s return to the classroom.

The district and school administrators said they were prohibited from divulging details about the ongoing investigation, but more information about the incident came to light following Tobar’s arrest.

Tobar was seen “cradling a student and holding the student over the balcony on the second floor of Marshall Elementary School” on Dec. 19, according to SFUSD spokesperson Gentle Blythe.

The incident was witnessed by a staff member at the school, who then reported Tobar to Marshall’s administration, which was confirmed by several sources close to Tobar.

“The school immediately contacted the parent of the involved student and SFUSD placed Mr. Tobar on paid administrative leave while the district conducted a thorough investigation,” Blythe said. “Today, the San Francisco Police Department arrested Mr. Tobar.”

Following his arrest, Tobar was booked into San Francisco County Jail for felony child endangerment/abuse, according to police. Blythe confirmed that Tobar was still employed with the school district as of Tuesday, but remained on paid administrative leave.

Those who knew Tobar, personally and professionally, expressed shock at his arrest.

“It’s hard to see good people get punished,” said Lloyd Rath, who has volunteered at Marshall and worked alongside Tobar for some 11 years.

In the days leading up to Tobar’s arrest, more than 100 families signed a petition in support of Tobar, according to Rath, who called Tobar’s arrest “a severe blow” to the school’s community.

“He is a dearly loved teacher, and this will be a real challenge for the school to overcome,” Rath said. “I hope that Mr. Tobar is exonerated.”

Police are asking others who may have had any “suspicious contact” with Tobar to contact the SFPD Special Victims Unit at (415) 558-5500.

Laura Waxmann
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Laura Waxmann

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