JEANNETTE (KDKA) — A teacher at Jeannette High School, previously under investigation, has been charged with having an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old student.
Maria Chappell, 38, of Mt. Pleasant Township, is accused of having sex with the 16-year-old male student in a classroom after school, as well as at a hotel.READ MORE: Body Of West Virginia Man Who Disappeared Found In River
An affidavit of probable cause says the student skipped school on Feb. 29. Chappell allegedly picked him up and they went to a hotel for the day.
According to a criminal complaint, Chappell also allegedly had sex with the student in her car and around the City of Jeannette.
The complaint stated that investigators searching through cell phones and computers discovered communications of a “sexual nature” between the Chappell and the student.
Chappell turned herself in Friday. The married mother of two is now charged with institutional sexual assault, corruption of minors and unlawful conduct with minors.
She taught English as well as a course called “Ethically Speaking,” to ninth graders.
The Jeannette School District began its investigation less than a month ago. Shortly thereafter, the district said in a written statement that Chappell was removed from her duties.
Without providing specifics, the district said it was taking appropriate action to address the incident and to avoid future inappropriate teacher-student contact.READ MORE: Pittsburgh Pirates Offer Free Tickets To Fans Who Get COVID-19 Shot At Pre-Game Clinic
The school district previously released a statement, reading in part, “The Jeannette City School District Administration was recently made aware of a situation involving possible inappropriate conduct of a District employee of a personal nature toward a District student.”
The statement goes on to say the safety and welfare of students is placed ahead of all other interests.
Reaction to Chappell’s arrest in the City of Jeannette ranged from disappointment to disgust.
Mona Dorko, of Greensburg, told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti, “He’s not an adult, not yet. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. She knows what she’s doing.”
“It’s inappropriate for anybody, especially a teacher,” Stephen Popichak, of Jeannette, said.
Another Jeannette resident, Albert Heckman, said he thought the teacher should be penalized to the fullest, adding, “She should be setting an example for the younger kids.”MORE NEWS: Local Governments Will Get Less Money From Gas Drilling This Year