Former 'Teacher of the Year' Arrested for Allegedly Having Sex With 16-Year-Old

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2nd California ‘Teacher of the Year’ Arrested for Child Sex Abuse; More Victims Sought

2nd California ‘Teacher of the Year’ Arrested for Child Sex Abuse; More Victims Sought

May 22, 2023

A former California high school “Teacher of the Year” has been arrested for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old male student, according to a press release from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

Tracy Vanderhulst, 38, a teacher at Yucaipa High School, was arrested on Thursday and booked at the county detention center on a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, KTLA reported. As of May 20, she was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail.

Vanderhulst was reportedly named “Teacher of the Year” at the school in 2017. CBS News reported that a citation from News Mirror read that Vanderhulst:

“…epitomizes the educator so many desire to be – she is the kind and innovative teacher from whom we hope our children will grow; the educator who strives to engage all of her students from her intervention classes to her honors classes.”

A tweet announcing the award has since been deleted, however a school YouTube video featuring Vanderhulst titled, ‘In The Classroom,’ was still online as of Friday evening,” KTLA said.

The Los Angeles Times reported that in a now-deleted tweet, the school said Vanderhulst “offers up a rigorous mathematics curriculum and deep caring for her students.” She joined the staff at Yucaipa High School in 2013, according to a Facebook post.

Investigators from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department (SBSD) collaborated with officials from the Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District, the Times added.

The SBSD indicated that detectives believe there may be additional victims. Accordingly, they released Vanderhulst’s booking photograph with the online announcement.

Anyone with information regarding a sex crime committed by Tracy Vanderhulst is urged to contact Detective Rachel Young of the SBSD Specialized Investigations Division, Crimes Against Children Detail at 909-890-4904.

Those who wish to issue tips anonymously may call the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or leave information on the We-Tip Hotline website at

San Diego County ‘Teacher of the Year’ Arrested for Sex Crimes in March

Vanderhulst is the 2nd “Teacher of the Year” to have been arrested this year on charges of committing a sexual act with a minor.

In March, Jacqueline Ma, 34, a teacher at Lincoln Acres Elementary in National City, was arrested on suspicion of having a sexual relationship with a former student.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that Ma was initially charged with:

  • Three counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14
  • Three counts of oral copulation with a child under 14

The former National City “Teacher of the Year” was then re-arrested on 15 felony counts, including:

  • Child pornography possession
  • Sexual exploitation of a child
  • Preventing or dissuading a witness or victim

Following Ma’s second arrest, San Diego Deputy District Attorney Drew Hart argued to keep her in custody without bail. Hart described Ma as “obsessive, possessive, controlling, and dangerous” toward the former student, thus presenting a danger to him if released, according to the Times of San Diego. Hart reportedly also referred to Ma as a “flight risk.”

The National City teacher faces up to 29 years in state prison if convicted of all charges.

How Common is Teacher Sex Abuse?

Teacher sexual abuse is unfortunately an all-too-common issue which impacts countless students every year in the United States. Some statistics related to teacher and school sex abuse include:

  • A study published in the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse found that an estimated 10% of students experience sexual misconduct by a school employee at some point during their school years.
  • A study by the U.S. Department of Education found that over a recent four-year period, there were nearly 9,000 reported cases of sexual misconduct by school employees, (including teachers and administrators).

But while studies indicate that child sex abuse in schools occurs frequently, those figures are unfortunately believed to actually be an underestimate. In fact, a significant number of teacher sex abuse cases likely go unreported due to fear of repercussions on the part of child survivors.

And while the vast majority of predators are male, it’s important to remember that a number of female teachers have recently been arrested and charged with inappropriate sexual relationships with students.

In Texas, a former Independent School District teacher was accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student in 2021. Katrina Maxwell, 32, who taught at Houston-area C.E. King High School, was charged with two counts of sexual assault of a child. Investigators said the student reported knowing Maxwell since October 2020, and that the sexual relationship allegedly began over spring break in March 2021.

File Your Teacher Sexual Abuse Claim for Justice Today

Survivors of school sexual abuse can file their civil claims with confidence by choosing Dordulian Law Group (DLG). Filing a child sex abuse claim against a perpetrator – whether an individual or an entity like a school district – can be a means of securing justice and recovering the financial compensation a survivor deserves. A civil lawsuit is an entirely separate matter from any criminal proceedings that may be brought. Furthermore, a survivor of school sex abuse may file a civil claim regardless of whether or not any charges are ever filed by the local District Attorney’s Office.

When you contact DLG’s California school sex abuse attorneys for a free consultation, we will review the facts of you or your child’s case and provide all available legal options. Moreover, we will fight 24/7 to secure all applicable damages for past harm endured by a teacher, principal, counselor, or coach, such as:

  • Emotional trauma
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Psychological harm
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost future earning capacity
  • Counseling or therapy expenses (past and future)
  • Punitive damages

Contact DLG’s proven Los Angeles-area sexual abuse attorneys today for a and confidential consultation by calling 866-GO-SEE-SAM. Led by Sam Dordulian, a former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, DLG is a premier school sexual abuse firm based in Glendale, California, offering survivors real results:

  • A $2,000,000.00 child sexual abuse settlement under California AB 218
  • A confidential multi-million dollar settlement for a client who was raped by a man she met on a ‘Sugar Daddy’ website
  • A $2,250,000.00 settlement for a survivor raped by a rideshare driver
  • A confidential maximum financial settlement for a women assaulted by an employer – despite the incident involving only minimal contact, our attorneys were able to secure the damages award under the eggshell plaintiff rule.

Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

Call 866-GO-SEE-SAM today to take the first step toward getting the justice and maximum financial compensation you deserve for your school or teacher sexual abuse claim.

Go See Sam