Hundreds of parents and students came together Tuesday night to remember James Izumizaki in a silent candlelight vigil outside Albany Middle School. Inside, parents met in the library for a session planned by the school district to offer guidance on speaking to children about issues raised over the past week.
A mental health counselor with the district said it was challenging to know what kind of support to offer given the wide range of issues that have arisen in the community in the past week, from teacher suicide and sexual allegations, to the grieving process and how to spot signs of sexual abuse.
Memorials for Izumizaki began early in the day Tuesday when a group of middle school teachers held a candlelight vigil before school, according to a statement released by the California Teachers Association.
Albany youth came together throughout the day to leave flowers, candles and notes around the base of the middle school flagpole, where the flag was at half-mast as of Tuesday evening. One parent said a crowd of high school students walked over to the memorial site after school to remember the popular teacher.
More Albany students began to arrive at the memorial at 7 p.m., and quickly grew to a crowd of more than 100. As of 8 p.m., many remained in a circle, spilling onto the sidewalk and comforting each other. The group began to break up at about 8:30, though dozens of students remained even later, huddled together, arms around each other, some sobbing and wiping tears from their eyes.
Last week, police arrested Izumizaki on suspicion of committing a lewd act upon a child under 14, identified by police only as a former student. A city official who works with the district, in comments during a press conference Tuesday morning, alluded to allegations from multiple girls in connection with the concerns of inappropriate conduct that arose last week.
Izumizaki was released on bail on Thursday; the district attorney's office said, as of Monday morning, the case was still pending investigation, with an arraignment hearing tentatively set for later in the month.
Monday afternoon, authorities said Izumizaki's body was found, along with a note, in a car in San Lorenzo at about 10:30 a.m. Authorities said they were investigating his death as a suicide. No further information has been made available.
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