Carlos Mendez addresses a District 65 school board committee on March 20.

A popular assistant principal has returned to Washington Elementary School, after being cleared of allegations of inappropriate behavior.

Carlos Mendez had been “temporarily reassigned” to working from home last spring.

District 65 spokesperson Hannah Hoffmeister tells Evanston Now that the school system is required to make a temporary reassignment in order to conduct an investigation.

“In this case,” Hoffmeister says, “the matter was investigated by the District, and the allegations were determined to be unfounded. As such, Mr. Mendez has returned to his duties as assistant principal.”

Mendez took the unusual step of going public in March once the allegations were made, telling a school board committee that “the evidence overwhelmingly shows the truth” that he did nothing wrong.

Mendez said that board members had received an email from a parent who “unfortunately based on false information, decided to attack me and accuse me of something that is not true.”

The assistant principal received strong support from parents, teachers and fellow administrators.

While specifics of the allegations were not revealed, Washington principal Elizabeth Cardenas Lopez said in a letter at the time that the probe was an “‘unjust and sickening investigation prompted by a parent who is on a quest to have a black student having some social-emotional needs expelled from District 65.'”

The principal’s letter also said “‘we want Mr. Mendez back in school immediately.'”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Leave a comment

The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.