A former teacher-of-the-year at Yucaipa High School is now facing accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor.
Investigators say, 38-year-old Tracy Vanderhulst had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy who attends the school where she is a teacher.
The mother of two children was honored with a teach of the year award in 2017. The district commended her for her rigorous mathematics curriculum and deep care for her students.
Now she is being accused of having sex with a student.
“It’s inappropriate but I’m almost not surprised,” said Megan Pugel, a former Yucaipa student.”
Pugel didn’t know Vanderhulst, but she is appalled by the accusations.
“You’re in charge of our children, you are making our next generations and this is stuff that is completely uncalled for.”
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Detectives say they began their investigation on May 18 when they got information about the alleged sexual relationship.
Investigators won’t reveal any of their evidence but Vanderhulst was arrested at about 11p.m. that night, in her Yucaipa home.
Her bail was set at $30,000.
“She was booked into our Central Detention Center and she has since posted bail and has been released,” said Mara Rodriguez, with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
Authorities have released her booking photo because Vanderhulst has been a teacher for a decade and they say there could be more victims.
“I think a lot of children, teenagers, might be afraid to speak up if something like this happened to them,” Rodriguez said. “This gives them that reassurance it’s safe to do so.”
The Yucaipa Calimesa Joint Unified School District released a statement saying in part, “that student safety is the highest priority and they are fully cooperating with the investigation.”
“It’s just said, it’s really sad,” Pugel said.
It is not just sad for parents, students and staff but some Yucaipa residents say the possible sexual relationship between a teacher and a student is bringing negative attention to the city they are proud to live in.
“It makes us look like we are not paying attention and not speaking to our children,” said Katie Shasky. “That might not be the case, it could be somebody preying on the innocent.”
NBC4 reached out to Vanderhulst for comment but have not heard back.
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