Sacramento police arrested a 38-year-old private school teacher this week after a former student came forward with allegations that he had sexually assaulted her.
Michael Mark Di Gino, a language arts teacher at Merryhill School, was arrested and booked Wednesday on suspicion of lewd acts on a child more than 10 years his junior and oral copulation with a minor, both felonies, according to authorities. He was released later that day after posting $400,000 bond.
Kathleen Shaffer, a spokeswoman for Merryhill, said Di Gino was fired after the allegations came to light this week. She said he had been a teacher there for 14 years, most recently teaching middle schoolers at the fourth-through-eighth-grade campus.
Shaffer said in a statement that school authorities were "shocked and appalled" by the allegations.
Principal Denise Ondrof sent a letter to parents Thursday notifying them of Di Gino's arrest and termination. She wrote that the school's administration had "never had any concerns or complaints" about him, and pledged to cooperate with investigators.
"I recognize that many of you have respect and affection for Mike and ask you to please understand that it is my obligation and that of our school to take every possible measure to protect the safety and well-being of the students," Ondrof wrote.
Di Gino did not return a phone call from The Bee seeking comment Thursday.
According to Sacramento police, a former student came forward with the allegations, prompting an investigation.
Police spokesman Officer Doug Morse declined to say how old the student was at the time of the alleged acts, which occurred on campus, but he confirmed that the victim is female. Ondrof's letter indicated the alleged misconduct took place in 2009.
Merryhill is a nonsectarian chain of private schools. Di Gino taught at the Park City Drive campus, located in the Pocket area. On the school's website, he is listed as one of two contacts for Camp Zone, a series of activities, specialty camps and field trips.
According to a school newsletter dated Sept. 3, Di Gino was a finalist for recognition as a national teacher of the year.
"His passion for his job is evident in his classroom and in his various leadership roles on campus," the newsletter states. "We all look forward to working with and learning from Mr. Di Gino for at least fourteen more years!"
Morse said detectives suspect there could be more allegations and encouraged anyone with more information to call police at (916) 264-5471 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357.