By Mary O’KEEFE
Members of the Montrose Search and Rescue team found the body of a teacher from the Los Angeles Unified School District at Big Tujunga Canyon mile marker 6.6 on Sunday at 8:40 a.m.
Team members were training in the area when they discovered Rigoberto Ruelas, 39.
“The team discovered [Ruelas’] vehicle parked near the bridge and then discovered the body,” said Sgt. Ken Binkley, Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station.
Ruelas was pronounced dead at the scene by team members who are trained Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). Well one member is a medical doctor and another is a registered nurse as well, Binkley said.
Los Angeles Coroner’s Office has determined the death to be a suicide.
Ruelas was a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School in South Gate. He had arranged for a substitute to cover his classroom for Monday and Tuesday (Sept. 20-21) but did not show up for school on Wednesday.
Ruelas was reportedly upset over an L.A. Times article that ranked his teaching skills as less effective than his peers’. The Times had written a series concerning education in Los Angeles Unified School District. They had named and ranked teachers in the district.
During a call in radio program, Air Talk at KPCC, several people called in with opinions concerning the ranking of the teachers. Some were in favor of the release stating it was helpful to parents while others felt the criteria used in the ranking did not tell the whole story of a teachers success or lack of success. Ruelas’ brother Alejandro called into the station and stated he was not certain why his brother took his life. He added his family was having meetings with school officials to try to get more answers.