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Senior Office Aide at Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Middle School Arrested for DUI

Staff and parents had complained about the aide’s behavior for months and were ignored.

brick school building
Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Middle School. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

A senior administrative official at Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Middle School was arrested for driving under the influence with a suspended license. Tomas Armijo, who is currently being held in custody, has faced charges three times as a result of drinking. 

Teachers at the school tell Knock LA that Armijo had appeared on campus several times in the past under the influence. Others say the behavior was reported directly to the principal, Gilberto Samuel, who did nothing. 

Staff at Cochran say that Armijo did not show up for work beginning on January 21. Booking records show that Armijo was arrested that morning by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and taken into custody, where he remains.  

When Samuel was asked by employees and parents where Armijo was, he lied, saying Armijo was working remotely. 

Armijo’s record for driving under the influence stretches back to 2004, which appears to pre-date his hiring at Cochran. He was arrested in January of that year and convicted through a plea of no contest — where a defendant in a criminal prosecution accepts conviction as though a guilty plea had been entered but does not admit guilt. He served 13 days in the LA County jail system and was given a three-year probation. His driving was restricted for 90 days, and he had to complete community service and a counseling program. 

The Los Angeles Unified School District said in a statement to Knock LA that “Los Angeles Unified is an equal opportunity employer.  The District complies with all laws governing the employment of applicants. All California school districts are prohibited by statute from employing applicants with certain convictions.” When asked to specify which convictions a spokesperson said they had nothing further. 

One senior aide told Knock LA that she smelled alcohol on Armijo’s breath while he was on campus working on at least four occasions between 2017 and 2020. Each instance was reported to Samuel, who dismissed them. 

In January of 2020, Armijo was arrested for driving under the influence again — with the additional charge of causing bodily injury to another person. By this time, he had been working at the school for almost six years. He was again convicted after pleading no contest, but given less time in county jail and less community service. 

Just over one year later, Armijo was arrested again for driving under the influence on a suspended license.  

Samuel told Knock LA that he “did not know” that Armijo was facing multiple charges for DUI, and denied knowing about Armijo’s criminal history, saying “The only thing that I do is run the school … That’s not my job.”

LAUSD told Knock LA through a district spokesperson that “all personnel matters are confidential.”