When an arsonist set fire to Trace Elementary last summer, the outpouring of community support was remarkable. Santa Clara County Board of Education Trustee Joseph Di Salvo and San Jose Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio appealed to residents to contribute to the Trace Fund, with the moneys raised “directed towards support for the Trace teachers and classrooms.” As SanJose.com reported, even the firefighters who helped put out the fire chipped in with a $5,000 check from San Jose Firefighters Burn Foundation to help rebuild the school.
But Trace has been facing problems since then. Last month, a daycare center worker was arrested for molesting children in his care. On Wednesday, Anne Zingale of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization was arrested for her role in allegedly embezzling $50,000 from the PTO. Police are now searching for another suspect in the same case, Vanessa Eleana Reyes.
According to police, members of the PTO became suspicious when it realized that one of its credit cards was being used to make unauthorized purchases of gifts, sporting equipment, clothing, and a trip to Legoland. An investigation lasting several months culminated with the arrest of Zingale, who was once treasurer of the PTO, and the issue of a warrant for Reyes, the PTO’s former president, on Wednesday. Reyes is believed to be living in Southern California. The investigation continues.