A Rio Grande City teacher acquitted on charges of having an improper relationship with a student may remain in the classroom as he continues to appeal the revocation of his teacher certificate, the Texas Supreme Court ruled on Friday.
Erasmo Montalvo, 46, teaches elementary school in the Rio Grande City Independent School District. While Montalvo was working as a high school track coach in 2009, a student athlete who had already graduated accused him of sexually assaulting her on multiple occasions, according to The (McAllen) Monitor. He was acquitted, but the State Board for Educator Certification sought to revoke his teaching certificate. An administrative law judge identified suspicious behavior – Montalvo gave female student athletes rubdowns, allowed them to use his personal whirlpool baths at his home unsupervised, and he called one student nearly 500 times – but recommended no disciplinary action, according to court records.
The board revoked Montalvo's teaching certificate in 2011. He then sued the state agency to appeal the revocation.
The state board had tried to keep Montalvo from teaching while his appeal is litigated, but the state’s top civil justices ruled unanimously to let him keep teaching.
“He doesn’t really want to coach anymore,” said Montalvo’s lawyer, Mark W. Robinett, “but would have had to get another job with one of the local companies. He’s a good man who was falsely accused.”
A spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General’s office, which represented the state board in the Texas Supreme Court case, declined to comment Friday.
The allegations caused Montalvo to lose his coaching job and tarnished his reputation, he said in an interview. While fighting the charges, Montalvo’s marriage fell apart and he was turned down for a home mortgage in the close-knit Rio Grande Valley town.
The school district, though, always stood by his side, Montalvo said outside the Texas Supreme Court after arguments in his case in October. A lawyer for the district could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
“They have been outstanding,” he said of the district. “They’ve known me basically my whole life – it’s a small town, and I grew up here.”
After Montalvo was acquitted, the education certification board revoked his certificate, determining that he was “unworthy to instruct or supervise the youth of this state," according to court documents. He appealed that decision in a lawsuit filed in Travis County District Court.
A trial judge ruled in Montalvo’s favor and issued an order to ensure Montalvo would keep his teaching certificate while the case was appealed. The state board filed an appeal in 2013, Robinett said, adding that it will likely be months before a ruling is issued.
Justice Don Willett, in Friday’s opinion, specified that the ruling was solely on the state board’s request to withhold Montalvo’s teaching certificate during the appeal.
“This case does not delve into the underlying merits, which remain at the court of appeals," Willett wrote.