Sometimes in our young lives, we meet a teacher who for whatever reason, be it their personality or dedication, inspires something positive in us. Unfortunately, this is not a story about one of those types of teachers.
This is a story about a teacher who, like so many that we hear about these days, betrayed the trust of her students and her peers. Of course she wasn’t the only culprit…
Our Lady of Charity School in Hialeah, Florida was, up until recently, the place of work of one Ms.Hernandez: a sixth grade teacher who inspired a bit more than a passion for learning in her students. One of them, a young boy who we will call John, was seemingly smitten with her from day one.
You must understand that sixth graders, being on the cusp of adolescence, are notoriously susceptible to the whims of their hormones. This meant that after a few “private study sessions” with Ms. Hernandez, John had as much choice in his own actions as someone addicted to drugs…
As will happen in these situations, especially when dealing with a private and very religious school, people began to whisper about the sixth-grade teacher and her alleged relationship with one of her teenage students. Ms. Hernandez didn’t give much stock to these rumors however, and the affair continued unabated.
The relationship between John and Ms. Hernandez went on in secret for months. It culminated in an impromptu trip to Disney World in Orlando on the sixth grade teacher’s dime. It was a chance for the two to get away from all the sneaking around they did at home. Though it would eventually be revealed that there wasn’t all that much “sneaking” involved…
Out of Character
School principal, Xenia Torres had a feeling that something was going on, she just needed to prove it. It seemed odd to say the least, and very out of character. Maria Hernandez had worked at Our Lady of Charity for over four years. Her coworkers had gotten to know her very well. Though obviously not well enough.
Oddly enough, as soon as they confronted her with the knowledge of the affair, Ms. Hernandex didn’t just up and resign. Quite the opposite in fact. She seemed proud of what she had “built” with John. The school took the only course of action left to them after that. Maria Hernandez was terminated from her position and the police were called…
It wasn’t until after it all happened and knowledge of the relationship became public that the school decided to come forward and respond. “This is someone that we knew for a long time…It’s something that happened off the school premises and not during school hours. At this time, we’re just going to go ahead and cooperate with the investigation…” explained principal Torres.
After the school’s principal notified the Department of Children and Families. police in Hialeah went to the home the of 32-year-old teacher and placed her under arrest. Maria Hernandez was charged with sexual battery, which is a lot like statutory rape. They brought her down to the station and began a lengthy interrogation…
Though she wasn’t as keen to admit the affair while in custody, eventually, after enduring a good deal of difficult questions, Ms. Hernandez came clean about the affair. She explained that she loved John and that it was all ok, because his mother had known about the whole thing and allowed it to continue.
Allowing it to continue was only part of it. What police soon found out was that not only did she allow it, 15-year-old John’s mother actually approved of him having a sexual relationship with her. So much so that she allowed Maria Hernandez to take him with her to Disney World…
A Cuban immigrant, John’s unnamed mother wasn’t what you’d call “well off.” Struggling constantly to make ends meet, she worked at a factory, earning just $7.21 an hour. His father had died in Cuba 10 years prior and she knew that Ms. Hernandez was providing things she never could…like Disney vacations.
Eventually, both Hernandez and the boy’s mother were brought to court. Though John’s mom has denied many of the allegations against her by the police. ”She is in disagreement with some of the items in the affidavit,” explained the District Attorney. “particularly certain knowledge she had of what was going on.” But how could she have not known?
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman was not having any of it. In fact, when John’s mother appeared before her at the behest of state child welfare administrators, the judge informed her that she must agree to counseling and supervision by the Department of Children & Families or lose custody.
Taken From Her
If the mother does not comply with her new court-ordered parenting plan there will be ramifications. The least of which will involve 15-year-old John and his younger sibling, being taken into state custody by the dept of Children and Families. As for John himself, he has his own guidelines to follow yet…
Why Take the Risk?
Why did Hernandez do it, you may ask? Well, it may surprise you to know that she is not really Ms. Hernandez at all. You see, she is estranged from her husband and it’s clear from her actions that she was very lonely. She has been released on $10,000 bail but is still awaiting sentencing.
The judge delivered a stern warning to John as well as a direct order. The order is as follows: Any ongoing relationship between [the teen] and the teacher will end, effective immediately. The teen, who has since been suspended from school himself, nodded in agreement in the courtroom. Of course, he’s hardly the first young person to fall victim to an attractive older woman…
State of Affairs
Stories of teacher-student affairs aren’t a new thing. Indeed, in recent years, with the onset of social media and phone apps like Tinder, Snapchat, and Instagram, it’s even easier to get in touch with students outside school hours. But back in the day, some predatory teachers had to do everything they could to “nab em young.”
Mary Kay Letourneau is possibly the most infamous teacher to have an affair with a student and that student was much younger than poor John. Vili Fualaau was a mere 12 years old when the two began a sexual relationship in 1996. She was eventually caught, but miraculously, the two continued the relationship even as she served her time…
In the end, Fualaau and Letourneau parted ways, though not before they had two young children together. Vili is 26 and a good father and he has done his best to put that part of his life away for now, but it’s not easy when your life at 12 forces you into adulthood. Which is why the judges and agents are so keen on John getting free of Ms. Hernandez as soon as possible.
In this writer’s opinion, which I presume is one that will be shared by many readers, John’s mother’s acceptance nee approval of her son’s relationship with Maria Guzman Hernandez is reprehensible. It is something that we as parents should never condone, regardless of our circumstances and one that should be discouraged at all costs.