ROMA — When high school teacher Jose A. Ramos kept two teenage girls in his classroom in October, he said he was protecting them from other students who thought the girls were witches.
School district police said the Spanish teacher resigned Wednesday, hours before a special school board meeting at which members were scheduled to discuss his termination.
Ramos had not been back to work since Oct. 20, 2006, when he was arrested for holding the 14- and 17-year-old cousins in his classroom throughout the school day.
Ad: Vacation? City Trip? Weekend Break? Book Skip-the-line tickets
The Spanish teacher told the girls, who police would not identify because both are minors, that they would be arrested for casting a spell on a fellow teacher if they left the room, according to school district police.
Ramos, who has been charged with two counts of unlawful restraint of a student, has been on paid administrative leave. His resignation will take effect at the end of the school year, said Ricky Perez, a spokesman for the school district.
According to Roma school district police, Ramos told the students that he had to protect them from the police and from other students who thought the two girls were witches.
“He was claiming he had them in there to protect them from other students because other students were mad at them,” Chief Noe Flores said.
The Monitor was unable to reach Ramos for comment Wednesday.
Ramos’ case is in the pretrial stage and a court date has not yet been set, District Attorney Heriberto Silva said.
According to Ramos’ staff page on the Roma High School Web site, he taught Advanced Placement Spanish language and literature and had worked for the school for 20 years.
Belief in brujeria, or witchcraft, is common among Roma’s population, according to Flores and others at the school.
Although police said Ramos never locked the door to the room — he kept the two students in the back while others freely entered and left, they said — the teacher falsely told them that an assistant principal had told him to keep them there, Flores said.
Since the incident, police and administrators have asked students to be more open with the administration about problems and concerns and have told them not to throw around allegations of witchcraft, Flores said.