The Palo Alto Unified School District is dealing with another case of alleged sexual misconduct by a staff member — this time, following the arrest of a band assistant who worked part-time at Palo Alto High School.
Henry Reed, whom Paly administrators said worked with percussionists in the school’s concert and symphonic bands, was arrested on Jan. 12 in San Jose on charges of “annoying and molesting a minor,” according to a Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety press release. He is accused of engaging in “inappropriate behavior with a 17-year-old victim,” the report states, adding that the “victim presented evidence that Reed had made inappropriate comments and requests to her” and that “he had allegedly touched her inappropriately and forced her to do the same.”
According to a letter sent Tuesday evening to the Paly community by Principal Kim Diorio, the alleged victim attends school in Sunnyvale.
Reed, 23, was hired at Paly this school year, according to Diorio’s statement.
Jeff Willner, Paly’s band and orchestra director, declined to comment, saying that he didn’t want to discuss Reed’s situation before consulting his superiors. Assistant Principal Adam Paulson also declined to comment, citing his lack of knowledge about the allegations and arrest.
The administration placed Reed on leave immediately after hearing of his arrest, Diorio’s statement read, and it will conduct its own investigation into Reed’s behavior during his time on the Paly campus.
Students in the band, unsettled by the charges, varied in how they responded to the news.
“I was surprised,” said junior Lucas Washburn, a percussionist in the band. “I also just feel bad for the victim.” Washburn, however, said he doesn’t think the absence will “greatly affect the whole band.”
In contrast, senior percussionist Vijay Sharma said “his [Reed’s] absence will hurt the section and band.”
Non-percussionist members of the band said they didn’t know Reed well, and even percussionists only interacted with him once per week.
“He [Reed] exclusively works with the percussionists, so I don’t know him,” said senior Preston Sterling, who plays clarinet in the band. “I actually have no idea who he is — nobody in band except the percussion section does.”
“We weren’t that close to him because he [Reed] only taught once a week,” Washburn said.
According to her letter, Diorio and Paly staff will speak directly to percussion students in the coming days for further insight, and encourage anyone with information or interactions with Reed to contact Diorio directly at [email protected].
Diorio reiterated that student safety and well-being remains the top priority. Guidance counselors will be available on campus for students to talk to as needed.
If you have any relevant information about Reed, the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety asks that you contact Detective Karin Jenks at (408) 730-7129.
Additional reporting by Dylan Zou and Nisha McNealis.