Officials investigating after director of PS school accused of injuring boy, 13

PALM SPRINGS — Police have confirmed they are investigating the alleged violent assault of a 13-year-old boy at Palm Spring’s Stepping Stones Learning Center. The alleged incident, that left the victim hospitalized with traumatic, visible injuries, happened yesterday May 17, according to officials. The school is located at 1281 N. Gene Autry Trail.

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In a Facebook post the 13-year-old victim’s mother, Storey Lantry Chavira, explained, “My heart is dying for my son.” Storey Lantry Chavira Facebook photo

Although the alleged suspect – identified by the victim’s mother as the school’s executive director – has denied the allegations and claimed the injuries happened while he was “defending himself” against the boy, the angry mother has said, “My heart is dying for my son, (because) this man was not arrested.”

Officers began investigating the alleged abuse after receiving a report of the violent incident and boy’s injuries just after noon yesterday, Palm Springs PD Investigations Supervisor Lt. Frank Browning later confirmed.

“We are investigating this incident and take all allegations of abuse seriously,” said Browning. “A full investigation into what led up to the alleged abuse is underway in an attempt to hold those responsible and accountable for their actions.”

Although officials have not identified either of the involved parties, in a May 17 Facebook post the victim’s mother, Storey Lantry Chavira, posted images of her bruised and injured son receiving treatment at an area hospital.

The images show the side of the teen victim’s face swollen with bruises, lacerations, and red marks. His right eye is bruised and swollen shut; and the boy is wearing a neck brace.

Stepping Stone’s director, Darrin Erb, later admitted to Desert Sun he was the focus of the investigation involving the learning center.

Erb reportedly told Desert Sun he has an attorney and will tell his side of the story once his lawyer authorizes him to do so and reportedly said he hopes the “bad press” doesn’t keep people from the learning center, saying it is “a great resource for children’s education.”

Erb declined further comment, referring any further questions to his attorney.

After being notified regarding the alleged abuse, Palm Springs officers conducted an initial investigation before referring the case to the department’s Investigations Bureau.

Stepping Stones executive director, Darren Erb, has denied the abuse allegations and claims he was defending himself when the 13-year-old boy was injured. Storey Lantry Chavira Facebook photo

“Our officers interviewed all involved parties,” Browning explained. “A report was taken and forwarded to my investigations unit for further follow-up.”

At the conclusion of their initial investigation, Erb was not arrested and remains out of custody, pending further investigation and review, the official explained.

“We are conducting the follow-up investigation and will be submitting the case to the District Attorney’s office for filing consideration upon completion,” said Browning.

Angry that Erb was not arrested, Chavira’s Facebook post – which had been shared nearly 1,000 times by noon, Friday – the mother described the “severe injury and assault” her son suffered at Stepping Stones and claimed the executive director of the learning center was responsible for the boy’s injuries.

“This grown, adult ‘man’ is claiming self-defense,” Chavira emotionally explained.

“Please, PLEASE, if your children attend this learning center or if you know of anyone whose children attend, I urge you, BEG you, to remove them immediately!” Chavira implored.

According to the learning center’s website, Stepping Stones offers “professional tutoring and professional therapeutic services” for students 4 to 24 years old, “to ensure each student’s success from kindergarten to career.”

The school’s website says the center “works in cooperation with several charter schools throughout Southern California” and “offers a learning center for both homeschooling and independent study learning.”

Anyone with additional information relevant to Palm Spring’s PD’s investigation is encouraged to contact the Palm Springs Police Department Investigations Unit at (760) 778-8411.

Storey Lantry Chavira Facebook post

 

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 46, recently moved to Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations, including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook, as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and The Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 – soon to be 15 – grandchildren.

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