California ‘Teacher of the Year’ accused of abusing 13-year-old student

A teacher who received a "teacher of the year" award has been arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a former student, according to police.

Jacquelina Ma, 34, a sixth-grade teacher at Lincoln Acres Elementary School in National City, California, was arrested and charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14, and three counts of oral copulation with a child under 14.

Police were tipped off to the alleged offences after the mother of a 13-year-old called and reported suspicions that her child had potentially been having an "inappropriate relationship with a former teacher," police said in a statement.

“On the evening of March 6, 2023, the National City Police Department was contacted by a concerned parent who suspected that her 13-year-old child was possibly having an inappropriate relationship with a former teacher. National City Police Detectives and School Resource Officers immediately began investigating the allegation,” police said in a statement. “On the morning of March 7, 2023, officers developed probable cause to arrest Jacqueline Ma (34-years-old), a current teacher at Lincoln Acres Elementary in National City.”

Law enforcement has not released further details on the allegations, citing the age of the victim and an ongoing investigation.

Only one victim has been identified, according to the National School District Superintendent Leighangela Brady, who spoke to NBC 7.

"We know that our entire school community is as stunned as we were by this news," she said in a statement to the outlet. "The district will cooperate with law enforcement and cannot comment any further on the pending investigation. We will continue to do everything possible to keep our students’ safety, needs, and education first and foremost."

Ms Ma was named one of the San Diego County Office of Education's "Teachers of the Year" for the 2022-2023 school year, and has been teaching since 2013 according to her LinkedIn profile.

Police arrested Ms Ma at the school's campus, according to CBS 8.

“The arrest took place on campus but was away from students, as both law enforcement and our site staff collaborated to ensure that student learning and the campus climate were not interrupted," Ms Brady told parents in a letter. "We can confirm that the student no longer attends our school, and we assure you that we will do everything we can to support the investigation.”

She was booked into the Las Colinas Detention Facility, but has since posted a $100,000 bail, according to Law & Crime.