East Bay News

Students, parents mourn death of teacher in Albany

Tuesday, October 02, 2012
James Izumizaki Albany teacher accused of lewd acts with minor found dead

There were strong and mixed emotions at an East Bay school one day after a popular teacher was found dead of an apparent suicide. 28-year-old James Izumizaki had been accused of lewd acts with a minor.

At school district administration headquarters, they spoke very stoically about the need to provide emotional support for the students at Albany Middle School. In the meantime, at the middle school, there was an outpouring of support, tears, and sobbing over a man who many considered a friend and a great teacher.

200 people including teachers, parents, and students turned out Tuesday morning for a vigil in honor of Izumizaki. He was arrested last week for lewd acts with a child under 14 and found dead Monday morning in a car in San Lorenzo. Based on physical evidence and a note left behind, it appears to have been suicide.

Many people present Tuesday said they don't believe the accusations against him and can't believe he's dead. "This school and our students were his life. He will be deeply missed," teacher Fran Shepard said.

School District Superintendent Marla Stephenson says grief counselors will be available to students at all district schools, especially at Albany Middle School where "Mr. I," as the students called him, taught and coached. "The day will not be business as usual. It will be addressing children's questions, children's grief," she said.

Some have criticized the district for placing Izumizaki on administrative leave after his arrest last Wednesday before any misconduct was proven. The district says their action is mandated. "When somebody pulls the fire alarm, you don't go around and find out whether it's a false alarm. You evacuate the building and then you investigate and this is pretty much what we have to do," school board President Dr. Paul Black explained.

Stephenson says police have shared nothing with her regarding Izumizaki's cause of death or what was written in the note he left behind. "We're looking forward to the investigation going through and having no doubt, and understanding exactly what happened," Black said. What exactly was left behind in the note will be a key part of the investigation.

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Tags:
albany, crime, children, sex crimes, east bay news, terry mcsweeney
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