A West Orange fifth-grade teacher has been suspended indefinitely after he was arrested last week on charges he sexually assaulted a student.
"Our highest priority is student safety," Interim Superintendent Jim O'Neill said in a statement. "We will closely monitor the case and the charges."
The Washington School teacher, Christopher Yonitch, 36, of Livingston, was arrested Feb. 7 on charges of sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, according to officials at the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.
According to officials, the child is a 10-year-old student of Yonitch.
A certified teacher will take on Yonitch's class for the remainder of the school year, O'Neill said.
O’Neill issued the following statement from the district about the arrest on Thursday:
On February 6, 2013 the Washington School Principal and I were notified of allegations that one of our 5th grade elementary teachers was being investigated. During the day we cooperated with the police and facilitated opportunities for investigators to speak with the teacher and any students who might be able to shed light on the allegations. I was notified early this morning that the teacher had been arrested. I immediately notified the teacher via email and certified mail that he is suspended indefinitely effective immediately. This is now a police matter; we will secure the services of a certified teacher for that class for the remainder of the school year.
Our highest priority is student safety. We have responded to this disconcerting and disheartening development promptly and with the strongest action we are legally empowered to take. We will closely monitor the case and the charges. Most importantly any and all children who require or seek counseling will have open access to our district professionals for as long as necessary.