A popular Higley High School yearbook adviser who has been the subject of a district investigation over unprofessional conduct has chosen to resign, a school official said Thursday.
Jennifer Wojtulewicz, known as “WoJo” by her students, has been on paid administrative leave since Oct. 31, said Denise Birdwell, associate superintendent of the Higley Unified School District. “Instead of going through a (district) hearing, she chose to resign,” Birdwell said. “I can confirm it is not a police matter.”
The district governing board approved her resignation at Thursday night’s board meeting. Her resignation won’t become effective until the end of February, so that she can ease the transition on yearbook duties while working with school officials, Birdwell said. She will not be in the classroom.
The Arizona State Board of Education’s investigative unit also has been looking into the allegations after the district contacted it in September, said Vince Yanez, the board’s executive director.
Although Birdwell said she could not discuss why Wojtulewicz had been under investigation, Yanez said he could confirm the board did receive a report alleging “the teacher had used alcohol on campus or on a school-related function.”
“That’s the subject of the state board’s investigation,” Yanez said. “It’s still an ongoing investigation with the board.”
The state board has done nothing to “discipline” Wojtulewicz’s “teaching license in any way,” Yanez said. If the allegations are found to be proven, Wojtulewicz could receive a letter of censure, a suspension or lose her teaching license, Yanez said. “We’ll wrap up the investigation as soon as possible,” he said.
Wojtulewicz did not return a phone call to comment Thursday.
Wojtulewicz was in her fourth year as Higley High’s yearbook adviser. She also has taught English at the school. In a Tribune interview in May, Wojtulewicz said this school year’s five yearbook-type classes will make Higley’s yearbook program the largest in the state.
“Her achievements with yearbook have been outstanding,” Birdwell said. “We expect to have another award-winning yearbook this school year.” Higley High’s yearbook has won several awards, and many students credited Wojtulewicz’s yearbook class with keeping them interested in school. The district recognized the students were learning more than just writing and photography and moved the yearbook out of the English program and into vocational classes this school year.
A substitute teacher with a background in newspapers has been working with the yearbook students since Wojtulewicz was pulled from the school, Birdwell said.
Higley High’s yearbook had some controversy last year after a student said his personal biography in the yearbook was altered to remove a reference to God. Wojtulewicz said in a June interview the student’s profile was too long and had to be cut. She said the student signed off on the changes earlier in the year and then went to the media when the yearbook was published.