A week after New Haven Public School math teacher Kirvanna Jones was arrested on charges of second-degree sexual assault and injury to a minor, further details have emerged about the case.
After the New Haven Police Department was informed of alleged “unprofessional conduct” between a student and teacher at the Engineering and Science University Magnet School, just 10 minutes from campus, Jones was placed on paid leave. On Feb. 10 — seven days later — Jones was taken into custody by the New Haven Special Victims Unit. She was released on bail last Thursday after the payment of $50,000.
According to an affidavit obtained by the New Haven Register, Jones texted photographs of herself in underwear to a 15-year-old student and had intercourse with him. Sexual intercourse with a student enrolled at a school one works in is grounds for sexual assault in the second degree, according to the Connecticut Criminal Jury Instructions. City officials contacted declined to comment.
“My primary and immediate concern remains … the well-being of students,” NHPS Superintendent Garth Harries ’95 said in a press statement released at the time of Jones arrest.
ESUMS was first notified of the alleged assault when a female ESUMS student approached the school on Feb 3. stating that she had seen four photographs of Jones in just lingerie, allegedly texted to a male student at the school. Jones was immediately placed on paid leave the day the allegations surfaced.
The male teen in question initially told investigators that he had texted Jones about his homework. But after his guardian arrived to the interview with investigators, the teenager divulged that he had engaged in sexual intercourse with Jones at her house on Dec. 2.
The student told investigators that Jones had given him special treatment in her class, awarding him high marks on homework even if it was not completed and letting him do “whatever he wanted in class.” However, the student told investigators that approximately two weeks after the alleged assault, Jones became “mad” at him and stopped showing him favoritism, the affidavit states. Diane Polan ’73 LAW ’80, the lawyer representing Jones, did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday night.
Harries said the charges against Jones are serious, and if true, could break the “fundamental trust and professional responsibility carried by every educator.”
During a home search led by NHPD Detective Shayna Kendall Feb. 8, police found undergarments in Jones’ Chapel Street home that were identical to the ones seen in the photo messages.
No evidence has been uncovered linking other students or teachers to the Jones case, a Feb. 10 city release reports.
Christine Montgomery, vice president of clinical and community based services at Clifford Beers Guidance Clinic, a New Haven guidance clinic for children, said she knows of no previous New Haven incidents like the Jones case, but said she knows of similar occurrences in other public schools throughout the state.
Montgomery said cases of sexual assault in schools are especially troublesome for parents since many are not aware of the full situation but still have to respond to questions from their children.
She said that because of this, communication between schools and parents is essential.
“When something occurs involving someone in the school … something such as this awful incident, it’s really important for the district to really communicate some of the facts as they know them,” Montgomery said. “[It’s important] to communicate with the students who were in her class so they have the bare minimum facts that they know without things left to rumor.”
Montgomery said it will be important for the school — which will be on winter break until Monday, Feb. 22 — to have a counselor on campus when classes resume.
According to a Feb. 10 press release, the district has deployed resources to support the ESUMS community and continues to monitor the school closely.
Montgomery added that effects of even a single incident of sexual assault in a school setting are not isolated. Negative repercussions can reverberate across the school and wider community that last long after the crime occurs.
“We place trust and the responsibility of kids’ safety in the hands of our teachers,” Montgomery said. “This type of an incident, I think it really erodes the trust, not just of this particular teacher, but it erodes the trust for students’ parents … in the school system and even beyond that.”
Jones, a New Haven native who herself studied in the New Haven Public School system, has taught at several Hartford public schools, and spent the last two years teaching students pursuing their GEDs.