Students in the Hanover School District tell 11 News they're stunned over the allegations that a respected music and choir teacher had inappropriate contact with a student.
Fernando Ornelas, 65, was arrested this week on charges of sex assault on a child. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office says there was inappropriate contact between Ornelas and a 13-year-old student at Hanover Junior-Senior High.
The allegations came to light last week after a school resource officer contacted the sheriff's office.
"It's a complete shock," one student told 11 News by phone Tuesday night. "After being a student of his for three years and not seeing anything like this. He did so much for our school and our community. He started a band and got his students involved in music again...something we were lacking out there."
A friend of Ornelas told 11 News he was a lieutenant colonel in the Army. The friend has known Ornelas for 17 years, and says he is appalled by the allegations.
A number of parents have expressed outrage at not being notified by the school about Ornelas' arrest.
The school district released the following statement:
The Hanover School District is aware of the serious allegations which resulted in the arrest of teacher Fernando Ornelas on Tuesday, January 28th following its reporting of the allegations to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department on January 19th. The District immediately placed Mr. Ornelas on paid administrative leave upon receiving the allegations, and he will remain so, pending the completion of its investigation. The District will also remain in contact with the Sheriff’s Department regarding its investigation. The District takes these allegations very seriously but will have no further comment at this time.
Ornelas bonded out of jail Tuesday night.