BOE President Responds to CHS Teacher Arrest

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The response of local school administrators and officials continues in the wake of the arrest of Columbia High School teacher Nicole Dufault on Wednesday night.

This morning, South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education President Beth Daugherty released the following statement:

The allegations released by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office are deeply disturbing. By law, administrators and Board of Education members are not permitted to publicly discuss personnel or individual student matters, or other issues requiring confidentiality.  The Board and administration will continue to cooperate fully with the ongoing investigations. 

I am impressed with the calm professionalism of the CHS and district administrative teams, especially new Principal, Elizabeth Aaron, as they maintain laser-sharp focus on teaching and learning and supporting all students during these very difficult days.

Dufault, a language arts teacher, was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting three students. She is accused of having oral sex and vaginal intercourse with the students on school property and in her car on multiple occasions. Dufault has been employed at the school for approximately 9 years.

Concurrent with the announcement of the arrest by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office yesterday, Acting Superintendent Jim Memoli and CHS Principal Elizabeth Aaron released a statement (see full release below) assuring parents that not only were district staff fully cooperating with law enforcement agencies in the ongoing investigation but that “CHS administrative team, guidance counselors, student assistance counselors, school social workers, and teachers are actively supporting students and staff impacted by events.”

In fact, Aaron had addressed the school community before dismissal on Thursday asking “the CHS community to stay focused on the important work of teaching and learning, throughout any distractions that may arise from the investigations.” One student reported that Aaron had urged students not to spread rumors.

In a phone interview yesterday, Maplewood Police Chief Robert Cimino commended the Board of Education for “their cooperation in the investigation.”

The investigation, which is active and ongoing, was conducted by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit and the Maplewood Police Department. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit at 973-753-1130.

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