A “Teacher of the Year” has been accused of sexually abusing a former 13-year-old student.
Jacqueline Ma, 34, a sixth-grade teacher in California, was arrested on numerous felony charges.
After winning the award, Ma had said it was important for teachers to be a “champion” to the kids.
A California elementary school educator who recently won a “Teacher of the Year” award has been accused of sexually abusing a former 13-year-old student.
Jacqueline Ma, 34, told a local news outlet KUSI News in August, shortly after she was named as one of the five 2022-23 San Diego County teachers of the year, that it was important to be a “champion” for the kids.
Earlier this week, Ma, a sixth-grade teacher at Lincoln Acres Elementary School in National City, was arrested on school grounds on numerous felony charges, including lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14.
The National City Police Department said in a press release that it arrested Ma on Tuesday morning, a day after the department said it was contacted by a “concerned parent who suspected that her 13-year-old child was possibly having an inappropriate relationship with a former teacher.”
Detectives and school resource officers “immediately” began investigating the allegation, according to the department, and police said they “developed probable cause to arrest” Ma, according to the press release.
It was not immediately clear whether Ma had retained an attorney.
Ma posted bail the same day she was arrested and was ultimately released, but authorities arrested her again on Thursday on additional felony charges, including possession of child pornography and preventing or dissuading a witness or victim, according to online jail records from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
The award-winning educator remains booked at the Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility, the records show.
Officials from the National School District did not immediately respond to requests for comment by Insider on Friday. Superintendent Leighangela Brady told NBC 7 in a statement that Ma “was re-arrested by law enforcement as their continued investigation into allegations of inappropriate conduct with minors secured additional information to press felony charges.”
Brady called the situation “deeply troubling” and said that Ma is “on leave and will not be returning to the campus,” according to NBC 7.
When Ma accepted her “Teacher of the Year” award last year, she thanked her students and her husband, according to a YouTube video of the ceremony.
Ma previously told KUSI News in an interview that it was “surreal” to be “chosen to represent all of the amazing educators in San Diego.”
Ma called it a “huge honor.”
“Just being that champion for those students, allowing them to believe in themselves and see themselves the way that you believe in them and see them,” Ma said at the time.
An announcement from the San Diego County Office of Education about last year’s teachers of the year said Ma “considers the relationships she maintains with her students her greatest accomplishments.”
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