Offline: Teacher Booted for Alleged Pervy Contact with Girl Students in Class and Online

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Design by Andrew J. Nilsen. Photos from PhotoObject.net

A day after he deleted his Facebook account last month, Terry Braye — exiled public school teacher — called SF Weekly in a panic. "I'm in trouble," he said. "They may arrest me."

It wouldn't be the first time. More than a year earlier, the 61-year-old music instructor had been arrested for accusations that he'd had improper contact with female students who played in the guitar band program he built at Visitacion Valley Middle School. Braye denied the accusations, but finally pleaded no contest in May to two nonsexual misdemeanor charges. He's banned from contacting anyone from the district, especially his former students. For Braye, that's no easy feat.

Terry Braye has lost his teaching credential and is banned from contacting anyone from the school district.
Photo by Kimberly Sandie
Terry Braye has lost his teaching credential and is banned from contacting anyone from the school district.
Neo Veavea, left, credits Braye with getting his son, Alesana Toloi, into an arts charter school. Yet he didn’t appreciate Braye writing on his Facebook wall.
Photo by Kimberly Sandie
Neo Veavea, left, credits Braye with getting his son, Alesana Toloi, into an arts charter school. Yet he didn’t appreciate Braye writing on his Facebook wall.

"The doorbell's ringing. That could be the police," Braye said. Still talking into the phone, he walked over to the door of his Richmond District apartment.

According to a source at the school, adults had shown police a private message on Facebook that appeared to be written by Braye this summer, telling a student he missed her and didn't do the things he was accused of doing. Told that by the SF Weekly, and reprimanded by his attorney for talking to a reporter in the first place, he was starting to get paranoid.

Braye checked the door. "It's the handyman," he announced with relief. "But this is what it's like."

Braye insists he doesn't remember sending any such message to a student. "I don't want to contact the kids. I don't need to contact the kids.... They may come and get my computer, which is fine," he continued. "There's nothing on my computer that would turn me in."

Terry Braye's fall from teaching grace could perhaps only happen today. He's the eager teacher who counsels kids as if he were a father. He might let them go too far, and on occasion pushed the boundaries of acceptable teacher-student relations himself. But in an era of increased sensitivity about adult contact with minors, Braye's brand of close-up teaching is riskier than ever, especially when social media make casual contact easy, instant, and admissible in court.

Braye has lost his job and teaching credential, is banned from stepping foot in any San Francisco district school, and has been prohibited from seeking work with kids until the end of a five-year probation. Still, nine former students interviewed by SF Weekly defend Braye as a caring teacher who didn't deserve the boot. "In the end, the people who lose the most are the school," says former student Chioma Amaechi, who is named on a stay-away order served on Braye, despite sounding like his biggest fan. "Those kids [at the school now] should have had a teacher of Mr. Braye's caliber." One girl who was listed as a victim in the original felony charges — and says Braye once kissed her on the top of the head — calls him "harmless."

"My reputation has been destroyed," Braye tells with SF Weekly. "I've been brutally misused by people I believe didn't really do their job and by a district that threw me to the sharks to protect itself and is still covering its ass."

Braye claims the mess could have been cleaned up without him getting thrown in jail. "If I'd been able to sit down with the district's lawyers, the principal of the school, a couple of teachers ... the girls and their parents — an hour and a half, and I [would be] taking the girls for pizza. It wouldn't have gone any further."

Now, as he continues to read some students' blogs and stands accused of contacting other students on Facebook, Braye risks looking guilty of one more charge: the banished teacher who can't let go.


Jennifer Nguyen, as we'll call her in this story, remembers sitting in sophomore health class at Lowell High School the spring 2010 day when the teacher sent her to the front office. Nguyen — a calm and goofy girl who stands 5-foot-2 and doesn't tip 100 pounds — shuffled off to discover the principal sitting with an investigator.

He had come to interview her about Braye, whom Nguyen had already heard was being investigated for contact with female students. As a tape recorder rolled, so did the questions: How many times did he drive her home from school? How many times had she been to his house? Did he ever touch her?

Braye had been Nguyen's favorite teacher in middle school. She learned to strum Beatles and Eric Clapton songs in his band room full of student guitarists, drummers, and singers. "I felt cool being there," she says. "Band was really fun." Nguyen would stay to practice with other students in Braye's room until 6 p.m. — better than going home to an empty house, with mom still at the nail salon and dad driving a cab. She would visit Braye's apartment on the weekends to practice or watch a movie — always with her parents' consent, she says — often while Braye's partner, Carol Seibert, was around.

Sitting in that same living room full of books and vintage family photographs one Friday evening this summer, Braye recently reflected on his downfall. "Maybe I was too generous, but that's how I was raised." Braye is a white-haired, soft-around-the-middle native Nebraskan from what he calls a "Beaver Cleaver-land" upbringing in which people wouldn't bat an eye at men calling women "hon" (as he does to this reporter). He's a bit pompous ("Am I an arrogant fucker? Yes! Am I overstating my importance to these kids? No!"), but undoubtedly charismatic. Braye turned to teaching after years of odd jobs that didn't have much to do with his music education degree from the University of Nebraska. He ran a warehouse; he drove a Super Shuttle. Finally, at age 50 and in need of a paycheck, he took a gig teaching social studies at juvenile hall. He found he was a natural.

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23 comments
thomas long
thomas long

sounds like a good candidate for an obama czar

thomas long
thomas long

another san fran depraved miscreant liberal

The Truth Giver
The Truth Giver

This guy is a total dirtbag. In the pass, he tried hitting on Carol's (his partner) younger sister several times, and on the second time, he even exposed himself to her with Carol sleeping in the next room FCOL!!!

TOTAL DIRTBAG

He really has issues when it comes to the subject of sex - that's why he now prays on liitle girls these days.

One must at first feel sorry for his "partner", however, why would she even stay with him after being convicted for his crimes?? Kind of makes one think about what else must be going on???

lili
lili

As always, I have to know, where were the parents? Why does something like this always take years to sort?

Why were the parents letting their kids myspace with him in the first place? Why were the parents letting him give their kids rides, and, VISIT HIS HOUSE? Are you kidding me?

Sounds like some of the parents were okay with Braye's choice of actions(parents are often top groomers this is why pedophilia related p*rn is the top industry in the world) and then became righteous later when the press showed up.

If he was a perv, the parents, as usual, were too 'busy" to notice or(as most won't admit) were perfectly fine with what the man did-until other, real, parents spoke up.

Business as usual. The computer is just a new means of transmitting a very old situation.

And if none of these allegations are true, very soon these same victims will have "issues" with someone else-and then the gaze will go where? Back to the neglectful parents that started all of this in the first place.

Parents if you cannot "trust" your kids or their teachers, homeschool them. Do not make teachers parent your kids for you and then whine when things "go wrong" because you, as usual, were not paying attention.

RyanJohnSmith
RyanJohnSmith

Never can be too careful. Unfortunately it's the world we live in. Shouldn't have put himself in those situations.

Myspacing with students ? Very unprofessional and borderline strange.

" But Nguyen says that her relationship with Braye actually soured after she entered high school. As Braye tells it, Nguyen had expressed an interest in writing love poems to a boy she had met online. To help out, Braye mailed Nguyen poems he had himself written to women. Nguyen says her mom would sometime intercept them in the mail and throw them out. "She just said it was creepy."

^ This sounds odd ^

An sending what's basically a mix tape to a 13-year-old ?!? C'mon man ! I wonder what songs were on it.

Somethings not right with this one. It screams " groomer ".

WukToo
WukToo

Sounds like a pretty cool dude to me, Its sad that society has become the paranoid place it is today.

anon-browsing.eu.tc

Erik Kolacek
Erik Kolacek

Braye, you are a f*cking pedophile.

Everything about you screams "groomer." And I'm sorry, but if your behavior as a FULLY GROWN ADULT needs defending, IT IS NOT DEFENSIBLE. These are CHILDREN who have no idea just how badly an adult can lie, cheat and steal their innocence, and you have NO business being involved in their personal lives, sexual or otherwise.

PERIOD.

Likewise, there is nothing in this article which does not read like the standard resume for a sexual predator. If I were to find out you had spoken to my teenage sister or ANY of my nieces and nephews on Facebook, the police would be the least of your worries.

I mean gosh, you helped underprivileged children? So did Michael Jackson. SO DOES EVERY OTHER PEDOPHILE who has managed to get himself into a position of power over children. The only difference is that Michael Jackson had a pile of money to throw at his problems and you don't.

Thank god the school caught this matter before you were able to cross the line and permanently destroy anyone's life. I have no doubt there are children outside of the school district who have not been as lucky.

"Poor, poor misunderstood you...why can't other adults just leave you alone?" Nice try, but we both know you're full of sh*t.

(Insert "tone argument," complain that I'm a mean person, insinuate that you've been threatened...pay lip service to "needy minority children")

Blah blah blah.

Go back in your hole and thank God you are not in jail.

Brrrrr
Brrrrr

Eh. I agree that it sounds like he crossed some lines. And the music sent anonymously with the textese note? Yick. Creeped me out.

Maybe this guy had only the best intentions. I'm sure he believes that about himself. As a mom I'd be creeped out if someone was "helping" my middle school daughter by sending her Steve Miller songs, in more ways than one.

Also, my friend taught with a belOved teacher. He helped a lot of students. Unfortunately, in this case, he was abusing the kids' trust. I feel for teachers, especially since so many kids are in sore need of support, but I'd rather see schools erring on the side of caution.

I do know kids in other instances have unfairly used allegations of misconduct against teachers (for revenge, intimidation, because of their own inner turmoil or need for attention, etc.). In this case, though, it sounds like there's at least--as the previous commenter said--a profound misunderstanding of appropriate boundaries.

Teatime10
Teatime10

Gawd, I would HATE to be a teacher in this country. The culture is so messed up here -- a culture of suspicion, paranoia, alarmism, backstabbing and fear. A fake superficial bling-bling culture of poverty, broken people and complacent ignorance. Kids here don't know whether they're coming or going. It doesn't surprise me that someone like Braye -- or anyone who is sincere and reaches out -- would end up in jail & fired in this toxic climate.

cordero
cordero

Interesting read (and well written - thanks to the author/editor).

I had some special teachers growing up as well, but they never crossed that 'line', which usually meant touching. Even 30 years ago that was wrong.

Mr. Braye just doesn't 'get it'; I have a feeling that he never will. Good luck to him in his next (new) endeavor...

Tbraye
Tbraye

I am so sorry I don't "get it", but unless you have taught I am quite sure you do not "get it" either. I doubt that you have a clue about the needs and fears of the poor immigrant children that sat in my music room and expanded their world through performance on the guitar and drums. Please do me this one favor ....... Go on YouTube, type in "thuskerguitar", and watch my students performing. It is a wonderful experience. Thank you. Braye (BTW... Try to imagine explaining to 12 and 13 year old children in SF what the hell a "husker" is!!!)

RobertSF
RobertSF

Yes, all that is good and well, and it sounds like you're an excellent teacher, but you also sound like someone from a different country who doesn't understand our rules. It has always been inappropriate to have personal relationships with children. I remember particularly one of the vignettes in Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio" was about a teacher who crossed that line. It was published in 1919.

At least you're guilty of horrible judgment, and from the closing paragraph in the article, it looks like you still don't get it. Consider therapy to understand why you are wrong. You're not wrong for wanting to help kids, but how you've gone about it is wrong.

arcady
arcady

Had a teacher myself in High School who used to stay around and help struggling kids, sponser a lot of different student clubs, tell wild stories of the 'old days' as a refugee in WWII (he was a kid when the Germans invaded the USSR where he was from, and found himself homeless wandering about - at least as his tall tales went, usually ended with how he came to the US just in time to get drafted into the Korean War and some random grizzly event from there to scare us back into our seats).

He took us camping several times, and when a friend started getting beat up at home and became an alcoholic at 16 - this guy took him in and got him clean.

He was a crazy old man, who played up a crazy reputation and would come to school in a bag lady dress on spirit days and Halloween.

But he was one of the best teachers I've ever met - and could easily be responsible for saving the futures of a lot of troubled lives.

From this story it doesn't seem like the teacher here went over the line - but that the line went over him.

Given all the drugs, gangs, absentee parents, neglect, and so on... we need more teachers like this, not less.

Dajmiller
Dajmiller

You are wrong. This guy went way over the line. As a teacher, you cannot give students (of any sex) rides in your car, you cannot have them over. This guy went WAY over the line. Nor do you ever touch a student! Remember, a teacher is supposed to be a mentor, not friends with students.

Tbraye
Tbraye

If you never touch a student you have NO CHANCE of earning their trust or having an impact on their lives. Please remember, a music teacher is not about training children for jobs. A music teacher is about expanding confidence, creating magic in a child's soul, and enlarging a child's realm of possibilities in life. Also, teaching them toTURN IT UP and ROCKING OUT!!!!

Thirdeye
Thirdeye

Sorry, I have to disagree with that first statement. There are less dangerous ways to humanize yourself to students. Other teachers do it effectively while maintaining personal boundaries. Yes, even with kids from hard backgrounds.

I'm sure you were an idealistic, self-giving, and inspiring teacher, but I also glean a certain amount of emotional neediness on your part that slipped into your relationships with students and that you expressed through social media. That's a no-no, regardless of what may or may not have gone on physically. It WILL lead to trouble, as you found out. At the very least, that tendency leads to perceptions on the part of students that will diminish your effectiveness. I would consider you unprofessional, but not a criminal or a pedophile. The District needed to take firm corrective action short of involvement by the DA's office. It may have been a bitter pill, but not as bitter as the one you got.

Eristone
Eristone

Your teacher sounds like Alex...

guest
guest

Sounds like the teacher crossed the line on several occasions, but in his mind thought he was doing nothing wrong. Perhaps a bit delusional about right vs wrong as it relates to teacher ethics. Scary to think he had kids over at his house.

Tym Less
Tym Less

This is a current struggle between the Old Guard and New!

hisokak
hisokak

i cant believe this!! me and my sister just got two i-pads for $42.77 each and a $50 amazon card for $9. the stores want to keep this a secret and they dont tell you.go here, www.pluscent.com

holakoos
holakoos

i cant believe this!! me and my sister just got two i-pads for $42.77 each and a $50 amazon card for $9. the stores want to keep this a secret and they dont tell you.go here, www.pluscent.com

holakoos
holakoos

i cant believe this!! me and my sister just got two i-pads for $42.77 each and a $50 amazon card for $9. the stores want to keep this a secret and they dont tell you.go here, www.pluscent.com

MasMadness
MasMadness

It's kind of funny that all these VVM Weekly's are becoming advocates for sex offenders and alleged pedophiles just as the heat is getting turned up on their lack of age verification for their Backpage escorts. They've been doing this same type of piece in Seattle lately too.

 

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