SACRAMENTO – A 30-year-old teaching intern has been arrested after police found her with a 16-year-old male student in her car as the woman's toddler was strapped into a car seat in the back.
Margaret De Barraicua and the student are believed to have been having "an ongoing consensual sexual relationship for several months," Sacramento police spokesman Sgt. Justin Risley said.
The investigation began Saturday when police received a report of a car parked behind an elementary school, Risley said. Officers found the windows of the car steamed up and could see two people moving inside, he said.
When the car door opened, officers found De Barraicua, the teenager and the teacher's 2-year-old child, Risley said.
The teenager was in a language and arts class that De Barraicua has taught since September, when she started her paid internship at McClatchy High School.
De Barraicua, who is married, was placed on paid administrative leave Tuesday while the investigation is ongoing, said Maria Lopez, a spokeswoman for the Sacramento City Unified School Distric (search)t. The toddler was released to De Barraicua's husband.
Before the internship, De Barraicua worked in the district for about two years as a substitute teacher. Interns are required to undergo the same background checks as credentialed teachers.
Sacramento police don't believe De Barraicua has victimized other students, Risley said.
"We think this is an isolated incident," he said.
De Barraicua did not return a telephone call to her home Wednesday.
She is one of several female teachers across the nation accused of having illegal sexual relationships with male students.
Earlier this month, a 27-year-old elementary school teacher in Tennessee was charged with 28 felony counts for her alleged sexual relationship with a 13-year-old. In Florida, a 23-year-old middle school teacher was charged in June after being arrested for allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old student.
In the most well-known case, Seattle teacher Mary Kay Letourneau (search) was 34 and a married mother of four when she began a sexual relationship with a 12-year-old student.
Now 43, Letourneau served 7 1/2 years in prison after being convicted of raping Vili Fualaau (search), now 22. The couple have two children together and recently decided to get married.