ALBANY — James Izumizaki, a teacher and coach at Albany Middle School who had been accused having an inappropriate relationship with a female former student, was found dead in his car on Monday.

The Albany Unified School District announced “with great sadness that according to Albany Police Department, Albany Middle School 6th grade teacher James Izumizaki passed away. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the death as a possible suicide.

James Izumizaki

“We have no other information at this time. Students have not been informed by our staff. We will inform the students Tuesday, Oct. 2, when mental health personnel will be available on site.”

Superintendent Marla Stephenson was scheduled to hold a press conference on Tuesday.

Izumizaki, 28, was popular among the students and was known as “Mr. I.” He coached the 8th grade boys basketball team and the 7thgrade girls volleyball team, both known as the Albany Cobras. Upon learning of his death, students set up a shrine for him on campus. Classes were dismissed early.

Principal Peter Parenti said in a message to the Albany Middle School community on Tuesday, “Today was a difficult day for students, staff and families. People are sad, angry, confused, and in shock. Staff and community came together to support each other. All of our teachers reported to their classrooms. Counselors, psychologists and mental health providers were available and continue to be available on campus. Parents and community members were on hand to provide support in many ways.”

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Stephenson learned of the alleged misconduct on Sept. 24 and the school district contacted Child Protective Services and Albany police. Izumizaki was immediately placed on leave.

The school community was shocked when he was arrested on Sept. 26 at his home. He was released on bail from Santa Rita Jail. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office had not filed charges at the time of his death; arraignment had been tentatively scheduled for Oct. 24.

Albany is in the San Francisco Bay Area,  just north of Berkeley.

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