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Teacher busted in video sting officially charged with stealing from students

5:04 PM, Mar 19, 2013   |    comments
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LINDEN, CA - A Linden High School teacher has been charged with petty theft after she was allegedly caught on camera stealing from students' backpacks.

The teacher was identified by the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office as 30-year veteran teacher Joann Maxwell. She was placed on administrative leave last month when the accusations surfaced.

Students who had noticed items missing from their backpacks while they were in P.E. class set up a sting in early February. A camera was placed in one locker while a student hid in another locker, also recording with a cellphone camera. The alleged thefts took place. Feb. 11 and 13, 2013.

STORY: Student masterminds video sting to catch thief

Sophomore Justine Betti was stunned when she discovered it was her teacher.

"When we found out what was happening we were like, this is not right and something has to be done about it," Betti said.

The video Betti took went viral and she's been interviewed on Good Morning America, CNN and even a Japanese television network.

Betti said she is amazed at the level of media attention.

"It's an unusual story. It's pretty rare and that we got it on video," she said.

The decision to make the video public was not easy.

"Me and my friends, the three of us that did this, we all felt really bad and we still do," Betti said, adding that the physical education teacher was very popular. "It was the right thing to do. And it's the right thing that she got caught because if she did have a problem, she needed help with it so she could get help."

Betti has had strong support from other students.

"It was bad because it was an invasion of people's personal property," said senior Manuel Robles, adding he feels the theft charges are appropriate.

Maxwell has been on leave with pay since the Linden Unified School District began an investigation.

The D.A. office said the charges are misdemeanors and Maxwell has been sent a notice to appear in court March 29.

STORY: Teacher caught on cam allegedly stealing from students


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