Former upper school teacher faces charges for misconduct involving a student


Kathy Fang

The upper school’s quad. Former Harker upper school teacher Florio was terminated in June and arrested on Aug. 16 on felony and misdemeanor charges.

A former Harker upper school teacher was arrested in San Jose last Thursday and currently faces criminal charges for inappropriate communication with a minor during school functions and on social media.

Schools officials terminated instrumental music teacher, orchestra and jazz band conductor and class of 2019 dean Christopher Florio, 39, after they were informed of an allegation of misconduct with a student.

Head of School Brian Yager met with faculty earlier this week about the situation as well as Harker policy on appropriate faculty-student interactions. Yager encourages students who are processing the situation and who want to talk about it to reach out to counselors, advisors and administrators.

“In any situation that is challenging, there’s a lot of dynamics involved that are hard to manage for the community, and a range of emotions,” Yager said in an interview with Harker Aquila and Winged Post yesterday. “We have to recognize that and, as always, be our best and learn from this experience.”

Dr. David Hart, an instrumental and vocal music teacher at the middle school, has transitioned to the upper school to assume Florio’s teaching roles. Members of upper school music groups and their parents were notified of this transition on June 30, but no further details about Florio’s departure were provided at the time.

Upper school math teacher and former class of 2018 dean Dr. Victor Adler will take on Florio’s role as dean of the class of 2019.

“I understand that it’s a loss. Somebody’s been with you for three years, and having gone through that process, I understand you get attached to this person,” Dr. Adler said. “I feel bad for the class for sure. At some point we have to move forward, the class does, and I hope that we move forward together.”

Photo by Lifetouch Studio
A headshot of former upper school teacher Christopher Florio. Florio was terminated in June and arrested on Thursday on felony and misdemeanor charges.

Prior to his termination, Florio had taught at the upper school for thirteen years. Members of the community received the news with a range of reactions. Teachers in the performing arts department, as well as the rest of the school, look to support their students in the coming months.

“Often in arts classes, people’s emotions come up… and we want to be able to let students say they’re sad or angry or whatever they are,” Director of Performing Arts Laura Lang-Ree said. “We’re often in a dance, or in a play, or in a musical; we’re talking about deep and personal things, and so we’re fostering that kind of conversation, but at a level where the student feels safe.”

Students and teachers alike are dealing with the impact of the situation.

“I was a little bit disturbed, and over the next coming days, I kept thinking about it. I really could not believe it,” said ASB President Neil Ramaswamy (12), who had previously worked with Florio in student council and jazz band.

After the San Jose Police Department conducted an investigation into the allegations, Florio was arrested and booked into the Santa Clara County Jail on Thursday on felony and misdemeanor charges.

Anyone with information regarding this incident may contact Detective Chris Mendoza of the San Jose Police Department at (408) 537-1379.

Correction: September 3, 2018

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Florio taught at the upper school for nine years. The article has been edited to correct this error.