When parents send their kids to school, they expect their children are spending their days expanding their minds under the guidance of responsible and professional adults.
However, when one New Jersey mom looked through her son’s phone recently, she discovered the disturbing truth about how her son actually earned his good grades…
The New Teacher
In 2005, the staff at Passaic High School in New Jersey hired Jose Maria to work as a Spanish teacher. At just 26 years old, Maria was young when he was hired but he seemed passionate about teaching. Over the following years, Maria seemed to be a perfect fit at the school.
Doing The Impossible
For the next 13 years, Maria had become a staple in the Passaic High School community. While many high school teachers find it difficult to engage a bunch of uncontrollable teenagers and get them to participate, Maria seemed to connect with his students…
The students seemed to like Maria, who was one of the youngest members of Passaic High School’s staff. Not only was he a beloved teacher, but because Maria could connect with and engage the teenage students in his classes, their grades continued to improve over time.
Earned Their Trust
After more than a decade with the school without any issues, both the teachers and the staff at the high school trusted that Maria was helping provide students with a first-rate education. They also trusted that the students were in the hands of a responsible educator…
A Disturbing Secret
But in early 2018, the principal and the rest of the staff at the New Jersey high school discovered something incredibly disturbing about their favorite teacher that completely changed the way they looked at him and his 13-year career as an educator.
For the past 13 years, Jose Maria tricked the school’s principal, his colleagues, and his students’ parents to believing that he was a responsible, passionate, and trustworthy teacher. But recently, that facade came crashing down when word spread about some of his ‘assignments’…
Like most other teachers, Maria gave his students homework assignments, tests, and projects to help teach them about Spanish language and culture. But for some of his other students, Maria came up with some unorthodox ways to improve their grades.
Crossing The Line
To better connect with some of his students and gain their trust, Maria picked up some of his students, who were all underage, outside of school hours and would buy them Chinese food and alcohol. But that’s just where the inappropriate behavior started…
A Twisted Guarantee
When a few of those students were struggling in his class, Maria told them there was a way they could guarantee they would receive better grades. But Maria didn’t want typical extra credit from his young students. Maria wanted a photo instead.
Nude Photos For Better Grades
According to Maria, if the 2 underage male students sent him pictures of their genitalia, he promised them that he would give them better grades on their report cards than what they actually would have earned based on their tests and assignments…
A Desperate Student
One of the students, who has only been identified as Ro.C., knew the offer was inappropriate and crossed a line, but he desperately wanted to improve his grades. Instead of sending Maria an actual nude picture of himself, Ro.C. sent Maria a photo that he found on the internet.
When Ro.C.’s mother, who has only been identified as R.NM, discovered some of the old photos and inappropriate messages on her son’s phone, she was understandably outraged and disgusted by what a trusted teacher had asked her son to do…
The Truth Is Revealed
R.NM immediately confronted Maria about the incident, which occurred sometime between 2010 to 2012 when Ro.C. was a student at Passaic High School. When R.NM demanded to know the truth about what Maria had done, he admitted to everything.
During the confrontation, Maria reportedly told R.NM that he had made a mistake and deeply regretted what he had done. Maria asked R.NM for forgiveness and begged her not to go to the police. He even told her he would commit suicide if she did…
An Investigation Begins
But in January 2018, the Passaic Police Department, Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit, and the Department of Children and Families Institutional Abuse Investigation Unit received a tip about the alleged abuse and opened an investigation.
Between the 3 organizations, the investigation took only a day and a half before they had enough evidence to prove Maria was guilty of the abuse. According to court documents, Maria admitted to asking 2 students for nude photos during both audio and video interviews…
The Community Is Shocked
After the investigation and Maria’s confession, the Passaic Police Department immediately placed him under arrest. When word spread around the high school about what the 39-year-old Spanish teacher had done, the community was utterly shocked.
When school officials heard the news, they immediately suspended Maria. However, parents at the school were outraged when they found out Maria, who was earning $75,513, was suspended with pay. According to Keith Furlong, a spokesman for the Passaic School District, they are required to continue paying Maria during the suspension…
A Big ‘Mistake’
At some point, Ro.C. made contact with Maria about what had happened a few years ago. According to Ro.C., Maria told him that he had made a huge mistake. He called his actions ‘impulsive’ and told Ro.C., who is now an adult, that he had deleted the photo.
Police have charged the 39-year-old with 2 counts of endangering the welfare of a child and official misconduct. Maria currently faces 50 years in prison if he is found guilty of all charges. Until his trial, Maria had been released from prison on a pretrial monitoring with weekly reporting. He is also prohibited from making contact with the victims and isn’t allowed to have unsupervised contact with a child under 18 years old.