NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Police pulled over an elementary school teacher for driver erratically Thursday morning; she was charged with a DUI.
At 6:42 a.m. on Halloween morning, New Haven Police were dispatched to the area of Foxon Boulevard and Middletown Avenue for the report of a public hazard by an off-duty Hartford Police officer.
The off-duty officer observed the car weaving in and out of traffic, almost striking three vehicles. The officer believed that the driver was possibly under the influence after observing the reckless behavior.
Upon arrival to the scene, officers noticed that a white sedan was pulled over to the side, where the female driver – later identified as Jessenia Figueroa, 33 – exited her vehicle with a bottle of honey. Figueroa then proceeded to walk in to the middle of the traffic lane.
The bottle of honey was suspected to be used in an effort to mask the smell of alcohol on breath.
Figueroa stated that she “did not drink at all last night” and the officer issued a field sobriety test in which the series of tests she failed to perform correctly.
New Haven Police reported Figueroa became non-compliant, resisted arrest, – at one point managing to get free from her handcuffs – and continued to be belligerent during her booking at the NH Police station.
She was charged with the following:
- Failure to maintain proper lane
- Failure to carry a license
- Interfering with a police officer
- Driving under the influence
- Insufficient Insurance
New Haven Police released Figueroa Thursday and issued her a Promise to Appear in court in the coming weeks.
Figueroa is a special education teacher for Waterbury Public Schools. The school system released this statement on the incident:
“This morning, the Superintendent’s Office was made aware that a Waterbury Public Schools teacher was arrested in New Haven. Jessenia Figueroa is a Pre-K through 2 Special Education teacher at State Street School and has been with the District since August 29, 2018.
Our teachers, our administrators and all of us at central office hold positions of public trust and are expected to serve as role models for our students. That includes the exercise of good judgment.
The District continues to review the facts and circumstances related to this alleged conduct and will evaluate its options and obligations with respect to this matter including the monitoring of the criminal proceedings. As this is a Personnel matter, the District will have no further comment at this time.”– Sujata Wycoff, Director of Communications of Waterbury Public School
Parents at Sprague Elementary School in Waterbury where Figueroa teaches were shocked by the news.
“It caught me off guard,” said Denajia Ayala, a parent of 3 children at Sprague. “A bit shocking and hard to believe.”
Ayala says Figueroa is a special needs teacher to three of her children.
“She does an amazing job and…I pray that she will continue to do an amazing job with them for the rest of the school year,” Ayala said.
News8 reached out to several Waterbury Board of Education members for comment. They all declined our requests to go on camera. Off camera each told News8 they are “disappointed”.