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Belleview Elementary School Board Member Taken Into Custody

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Sonora, CA – A Belleview Elementary School Board member was taken into custody by law enforcement after submitting documents to district administrators regarding threats to kill children.

Clarke Broadcasting has learned that on Monday, the school’s Superintendent, Carmel Portillo, emailed staff and parents regarding board member Jason Vassar. It stated that on October 30, 2023, Vassar submitted personally written materials to the district administration and Director of the Tuolumne Joint Powers Authority. Portillo described that the documents “contained numerous statements of a concerning nature, namely, referencing threats to kill children, kill people, denigrate humans, and incite violence, with distinct anti-government rantings.” She added, “No statement, however, was directed towards any specific person or entity at Belleview; rather, the statements reference generalized acts that extend beyond the boundaries of the Belleview School District.”

Out of an abundance of caution, Portillo says law enforcement was notified, and Vassar was taken into custody.

“We can confirm that Mr. Vassar was detained for a mental health evaluation pursuant to 5150 of the Welfare & Institutions Code, which is consistent with the press release conducted by Belleview Elementary School,” confirmed Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jake Ostoich. He also noted, “We are working closely with school administration to ensure the safety of everyone involved.”

Additionally, Portillo shared that the Belleview Elementary School District filed a temporary emergency restraining order that was granted against Vassar. Regarding his seat on the school board, she says they are determining the next steps and “must adhere to specific processes to ensure school governance is conducted in a manner that best supports school safety.”

Vassar is still listed as a board member on the school’s website. Portillo’s entire email can be read below:

TO: Belleview School District Staff and Families

RE: Notice Regarding Recent Measures to Extend Protections to Staff and Students

Dear Belleview Staff and Families,

Student and school safety is our top priority, and we would like to take a moment to inform you of a sensitive and important matter regarding recent measures to extend protections to students and staff.  On October 30, 2023, School Board Member Jason Vassar submitted personally written materials to the district administration and Director of the Tuolumne Joint Powers Authority. The nature of the documents contained numerous statements of a concerning nature, namely, referencing threats to kill children, kill people, denigrate humans, and incite violence, with distinct anti-government rantings. No statement, however, was directed towards any specific person or entity at Belleview, rather, the statements reference generalized acts that extend beyond the boundaries of the Belleview School District.

In response, and out of an abundance of caution, our district administration along with the Tuolumne JPA promptly took action by reporting to law enforcement. As a result, law enforcement took Mr. Vassar into custody for a 5150 hold as a danger to himself and/or others.  In addition, Belleview Elementary School District filed a Temporary Emergency Restraining Order, which was granted on Friday evening, November 3, 2023, and which includes the above stated facts. The Temporary Restraining Order has been issued, out of an abundance of caution, to protect the following individuals:

  • Belleview Elementary School District Students
  • Belleview Elementary School District Employees
  • Belleview Elementary School District Board Members

We understand that this notification is alarming and deeply concerning. We want to assure you that Belleview School District is taking all necessary measures, within our power, prioritizing the safety and well-being of our staff, students and community, including obtaining the restraining order and planning for the potential for increased security measures on campus in the future.  We are working closely and jointly with the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office, the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office, and the Tuolumne JPA about any developments or changes as it pertains to this matter.

Our Governing Board President, Carrie Petersen, and I are working closely to determine next steps as it relates to Mr. Vassar’s position on the School Board, as we must adhere to specific processes to ensure school governance is conducted in a manner that best supports school safety.  We will continue to keep you informed about developments related to this matter, as they become available for us to share.

We extend our respect and support to Mr. Vassar’s family during this challenging time as they are an integral part of our school family.

Should you have any questions, you may contact me directly, and I thank you for your support and consideration in this matter.

Carmel Portillo

Superintendent-Principal

Belleview Elementary School District

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