A San Francisco kindergarten teacher accused of holding a student over a second-floor balcony was joined by a large crowd of supporters Monday when he pleaded not guilty to felony child endangerment.
Andres Tobar, 47, is out of custody on $50,000 bail after he was allegedly caught on video holding the child over the balcony Dec. 19 at Marshall Elementary School. Tobar arrived at the Hall of Justice in a white button-down shirt alongside dozens of community members from the Spanish-immersion school.
“I’ve called him a saint before,” said Sharon Hoff, whose daughter was in Tobar’s kindergarten class. “Whatever it was, I think it was done in playfulness and he was not doing anything malicious. I don’t know if any of this actually happened that he’s accused of, but I would implicitly trust my daughter with him.”
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Stephen Murphy signed a protective order for Tobar to remain 150 yards away from the child and the school.
James Farragher Campbell, his attorney, said Tobar has been a beloved teacher at Marshall for more than 21 years.
“From what I understand he picked up the child, took him over to the railing, was joking around, someone saw it and reported it as if the child could have fallen over the rail,” Campbell said.
Campbell said prosecutors may have been “overzealous” with the charge.
“That’s understandable because obviously they want to be protective of the children,” Campbell said. “But under no circumstances would he ever put a child in danger. It’s inconceivable to his whole background and going into the job to start with.”
Assistant District Attorney O’Bryan Kenney is prosecuting the case.
“We have a seven-year-old victim whose wellbeing and safety is our primary concern,” said Max Szabo, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office.
The San Francisco Unified School District is investigating the incident. A district spokeswoman on Monday said Tobar had resigned.