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Newcastle teacher for emotionally disturbed faces sex charges

Jennifer Woods allegedly had sex with minor student
By: Jon Schultz, Journal Staff Writer
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Police arrested a Newcastle special education teacher following an investigation into allegations she had sex with a former student during a yearlong relationship that began when he was 16, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said.

Placer County Sheriff’s deputies booked Jennifer Lynn Woods, 35, of Granite Bay, on Jan. 10 on felony charges of sex and oral copulation with a minor, and she was released on $100,000 bail from Placer County Jail later that day.

Woods is scheduled to be arraigned at 1 p.m. on Feb. 4 in Placer County Superior Court Dept. 31.

She met the victim when he was a student of hers two years ago, and the student has since transferred to another school, said Dena Erwin, Placer County Sheriff’s Office public information officer.

Woods had been teaching at the Sierra Vista School for special needs students in Newcastle, and she has been on administrative leave since the Placer County Office of Education received a complaint in September, said Gayle Garbolino-Mojica, Placer County superintendent of schools.

She was placed on unpaid leave this week, Garbolino-Mojica said.

Woods is employed in the Placer County Office of Education’s program for the emotionally disturbed, according to its website. 

An associate superintendent called parents whose children are enrolled at the school to inform them a school employee had been arrested for a crime involving a child, Garbolino-Mojica said.

Diane Britt of Penryn received the call and was “disturbed” to learn the allegations.

“For a teacher to do this, to betray that kind of trust for kids like this, it’s reprehensible. It’s the worst of the worst. I’m just so disturbed by it all,” Britt said. “It’s really frustrating for me to send my son to school and have something like this occur, not to him of course, but the possibility of this occurring there.”

Sierra Vista School’s classes temporarily moved to Granite Bay’s Vista Creek School beginning this month because of a drop in enrollment, Garbolino-Mojica said. The small school only had a couple classrooms, and it is slated to reopen in August, she said.

Woods is a permanent employee, which means she has been on staff at least three years, though Garbolino-Mojica was unsure of exactly how long she had been employed by the county, she said.

The Placer Union High School District initially contacted the county about the complaint, and once it was filed, immediate action was taken, she said.

“It was serious enough that we were in communication immediately with Placer County law enforcement,” she said. “We have been in contact with Placer County law enforcement through the duration of their investigation. … We have been cooperating as they ask for information, but we don’t know a lot because it is a law enforcement investigation.”

The county complies with the mandatory Department of Justice fingerprint background checks for prospective employees that will be working with children “100 percent of the time,” Garbolino-Mojica said.

Once the legal process runs its course, the county will then evaluate what steps are necessary to rectify the situation, she said.

 

Jon Schultz can be reached at jons@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jon_AJNews