Travel Agency Co-Owner Resigns Teaching Post

Times Staff Writer

The co-owner of a Mission Valley travel agency whose financial problems led to the cancellation of a number of prepaid student trips this month has resigned from his position as a San Diego schoolteacher, school district officials said Friday.

Leo Ronald Casias resigned from his position as a Spanish teacher at Mira Mesa High School on Wednesday, said Dr. George Flanigan, certified personnel manager for the San Diego Unified School District.

"He cited personal reasons," Flanigan said. "It was a voluntary decision on his part." Flanigan said that Casias had been employed by the district as a teacher since 1976 and had worked as a substitute teacher and teacher's aide for several years before that.

Tours for School Groups

Casias was co-owner, with his brother Anthony Donald Casias, of East West Travel, an agency that has sold package tours to local school groups for 12 years. Earlier this week, a group from Emerald Junior High School in El Cajon was stranded in Washington when the agency ran out of money.

The Casias brothers then canceled the other prepaid school trips scheduled this month, including a student trip to Mexico, citing cash flow problems.

The Casias brothers, who have told school officials that they plan to file for protection under the Bankruptcy Code, have not accounted for the hundreds of thousands of dollars students paid to book the excursions.

Flanigan said district officials found out for the first time this week, through media accounts of the agency's financial difficulties, that Leo Casias was convicted of bank larceny in 1984.

"This was absolutely amazing to us," Flanigan said. "I think we would have taken some kind of action if we had known."

Flanigan said school districts in California are automatically notified if a teacher is convicted of a crime in municipal or state court, but they are not informed of federal court convictions.

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