Bettendorf PE teacher has history of assault charges, Local 4 News finds

Local News

Parents and students say they're surprised by teacher's arrest

Some parents at Bettendorf High School are reacting tonight to the arrest of a physical education teacher.

The teacher’s in trouble on charges he hit his wife over labor day weekend.

Police arrested Jay Fitzgerald yesterday for domestic assault.

They say he hit his wife while they drove home Sunday night and left her with a possible broken jaw and a concussion.

Officers say his wife got out of the car on Highway 67 in LeClaire and Fitzgerald kept driving.

Investigators say she flagged down other drivers for help.

The assault charge is a misdemeanor.

Fitzgerald’s wife is now trying to get a restraining order against him.

Local 4 News dug through court records and found this isn’t Fitzgerald’s first accusation of domestic assault.

One senior says he and his peers were surprised to see their laid-back teacher in a police mugshot.

“It’s always surprising when you see something like that, especially when it is a teacher, you know,” says Ashley Whitbeck, who has a student at Bettendorf High.

Ashley Whitbeck says she and her son were shocked to see one of his teachers charged with domestic assault.

“I would hope he would at least get suspended for some period of time,” Whitbeck says.

Local 4 News searched the PE teacher’s court records and found he was charged with domestic abuse assault back in 2000 and again in 2001.

He also had a protective order filed against him in 2001.

Christy Benacci says she still feels that her daughter is safe at Bettendorf High.

“I’ve lived in many different states and there’s just bad people in all walks of life, you can’t always get away from it,” Benacci says.

She hopes educators use the incident to teach students about domestic violence.

“I’m kind of hoping it’ll at least be a teaching moment for the k ids in school,” Benacci says.

Benacci and Whitbeck are also counting on administrators to take proper action as the case unfolds.

“I think if he were found guilty and still allowed to work, that might be when I have an issue,” says Benacci.

“I trust Bettendorf that they’re going to take care of it and do what’s best for the students,” Whitbeck says.

A spokesperson for the Bettendorf School District wouldn’t comment on the case but did confirm that Fitzgerald is still employed with the district.

She says she doesn’t know if and when that will change.

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