James Ungricht.jpg

Ungricht

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A Guadalupe Union School District math teacher charged with lewd conduct pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Thursday morning at the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. 

James Robert Ungricht, 35, a teacher at Kermit McKenzie Junior High School, is charged with misdemeanor lewd and dissolute conduct in a public place. The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office charged Ungricht on Oct. 17 and an arrest warrant was issued, according to Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham. 

The case has been set for a pretrial conference at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 14 in Department 8, according to Cunningham. 

Charges stem from an alleged incident that occurred Oct. 3 at the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo campus library, according to Matt Lazier, the school's media relations director. 

Ungricht, who is enrolled as a graduate student at the university's School of Education, was positively identified as the suspect Oct. 13.

The campus police received reports on Oct. 13 of a person possibly engaging in lewd acts in the university's library, Lazier said. An investigation identified the suspect as Ungricht, who was arrested on campus Oct. 18 and taken to San Luis Obispo County Jail. 

According to the District Attorney's Office, Ungricht posted $10,000 bail on Oct. 23, and has remained out of custody since. 

The District Attorney's Office also confirmed that all witnesses to the alleged incident were adults, and no victims were involved in the incident.

"University Police issued Ungricht a temporary stay-away order because of the alleged criminal behavior," Lazier said. "He is not allowed to be on campus at this time except to attend investigative meetings, if any."

The university will offer no further comment as the investigation continues, Lazier said. 

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As of Thursday morning, Ungricht's name no longer appears on the Kermit McKenzie Junior High School website as a faculty member.

GUSD Superintendent Ed Cora released a statement to the Santa Maria Times on Wednesday afternoon, confirming that Ungricht was "immediately placed on administrative leave, which includes a standard instruction not to enter district property while on leave." 

The statement also confirmed "there is no evidence suggesting the teacher's conduct involves district schools or students." 

When pressed about whether or not students or their parents were immediately informed of Ungricht's arrest, which occurred a month ago, Cora refused to comment. 

Cora also would not comment on whether Ungricht had been placed on paid or unpaid administrative leave, nor would he disclose when Ungricht was placed on leave, saying that "the incident is still being investigated." 

The California education code requires Ungricht be placed on a mandatory leave of absence, and the district's board of trustees has 10 days from when they learned of the incident to inform the Commission on Teacher Credentialing of Ungricht's leave status. Per education code, Ungricht's teaching credential will be suspended pending court judgment. 

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210

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Courts/Public Safety Reporter