Jennifer Wells-Jackson, a Connecticut teacher at the King/Robinson Inter-District Magnet School in New Haven, was arrested after it was reported that she pulled on a 12-year-old’s hair. She has been charged with risk of injury to a minor and second-degree breach of peace while police continue to investigate.
According to reports, New Haven police were called to the school around 3:45 p.m. Feb. 1 about reports of an alleged assault. The female student, who has not been identified, claimed that Jennifer Wells-Jackson pulled on her hair just after the final school bell rang.
A video of the altercation has been posted online. It shows Jennifer Wells-Jackson grabbing a section of the 12-year-old’s hair while other students yell and crowd around them. The teacher is then seen letting go of the girl’s hair. It is unclear why the teacher decided to pull the student’s hair. Some sources claim that she was trying to break up a fight between two students.
The 12-year-old girl was not injured during the attack, and she refused medical attention.
Since her arrest, the New Haven public school district announced that Jennifer Wells-Jackson was placed on leave pending the investigation. The school district released a statement and said that their student’s safety is important to the district, and that they are fully cooperating with the police investigation.
The 49-year-old teacher has not revealed her motive behind the attack. She was released on a $20,000 bond following her arrest. She is expected to appear in court on Monday.
After the attack, the student’s mother, Destine James, spoke to reporters and said that she was disgusted by what happened to her daughter.
“There’s certain things you say and there’s certain things you don’t say, there’s certain things you do and certain things you’re not supposed to do especially when dealing with people’s children,” James said. “At the end of the day, there’s no justification for putting your hands on someone’s child.”
Many members of the school district were surprised by the teacher’s arrest. Wells-Jackson, who is a literary coach at the magnet school, was described by many as a well-liked veteran teacher who spent a lot of her time volunteering with the community. Those who know her called her well-respected. She was also a longtime member of the New Haven’s Federation of Teachers.
Some former students of hers sang her praises on Facebook following her recent birthday. Coko Thigpen, who reportedly had the 49-year-old teacher for 3rd grade, posted and said, “As I look back, I realize that every disciplinary action, and every lesson has all added up to lead me to this point of my life. I have been taught by so many teachers, but amongst them all you made the greatest impact by not only teaching by guiding us too. I have implemented so much of the life lessons you instilled in us while in school. If I never said thank you, well today I am saying that I am grateful.”
Besides Jennifer Wells-Jackson, three other teachers in the New Haven Public School district have been arrested this year for attacking students. Arrests took place at Truman Street School, Edgewood School, and Brennan-Rogers Magnet School.
Some parents are concerned for their children’s well-being and believe that the school district should hire better teachers.
Tajah Jackson, whose children attend Edgewood School, said, “I think they just need to hire better teachers. Ones that are made to work with children that won’t get angry so fast. I feel like they shouldn’t work in the school system anymore. As a parent it’s kind of concerning because you don’t want your kids to think that they’re in danger going to school. So as a principal, as everybody on the board, we need to work together as parents, teachers, staff to get this under control.”