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Jury convicts California principal of failing to report abuse

A California jury on Monday convicted a former San Jose principal of failing to report suspected sexual abuse of a child by a teacher.

Lyn Vijayendran, 36, was found guilty of the misdemeanor after jurors deliberated for two days.

A judge then sentenced the former principal of O.B. Whaley Elementary School to two years of probation, $602 in fines and 100 hours of community service, which likely will involve training other educators in the proper reporting of suspected child abuse, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

"I agree with the jury's verdict," Santa Clara County Judge Deborah Ryan told a tearful Vijayendran. "You did what you thought was right, but I don't think it was objectively reasonable at the time.

"I know it will have far-reaching consequences for your career. I do think you made a very bad judgment that day," the judge said.

State law requires principals, teachers and others who come into contact with children to report suspected child abuse. Vijayendran was reassigned to the district office as a coordinator of teacher support programs.

She testified Thursday that teacher Craig Chandler appeared forthright when he told her an incident during which he allegedly blindfolded a second-grade girl and put something in her mouth was part of a lesson plan about Helen Keller.

Vijayendran's previous handwritten and typed notes say the second-grader told the principal in front of her mother that Chandler put something in her mouth while she was blindfolded and alone with him in a classroom. The notes said Chandler wiggled her body and head back and forth and asked her earlier to open her legs.

Chandler is facing charges of committing lewd and lascivious acts on five children. A crime lab allegedly found his semen on a classroom chair. He has pleaded not guilty.

After Vijayendran was sentenced, juror Susan LaGaffa said the ex-principal "stuck her head in the sand rather than pull the alarm. I think she didn't want this ugly thing to be true."

Another juror, Christina Rodriguez said, "There's a lot more people to be blamed for this. She's a good person -- we all saw that."

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