by Matt Rosenberg March 20th, 2012
A then-resident of Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood who had deep ties to Seattle Pacific University during his tenure as a science teacher in the Bellevue school district, this month had his state teaching license permanently revoked following a guilty plea last fall to sex crimes with a Bellevue student when she was 15 and 16 years old. Sentencing papers show Matthew James Jones, now 32, is serving two 15-month terms concurrently after he pled guilty in September, 2011 to two felony counts of first degree sexual misconduct with a minor, a girl he taught as a middle-schooler in Bellevue. State corrections records indicate he’s now incarcerated in the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Although his Spring, 2011 arrest was widely reported, there had been no news coverage of the actual outcomes.
In elite teaching project linking SPU, Bellevue district
Jones had special cachet as part of a National Science Foundation-funded physics teaching project involving Bellevue schools and SPU, where he had earned his Master’s in education and gotten a related teaching internship in Bellevue. In conjunction with colleagues at SPU, Jones’ work as a physics teacher in the Bellevue district had become part of a pioneering, federally-funded research effort to improve physics instruction. A 2009 article in an online magazine of Seattle Pacific University (link, screenshot) notes the project was funded through a $3.7 million National Science Foundation grant to the SPU Physics Department, in collaboration with the SPU School of Education, several public school districts in the region including Bellevue, and an education research firm.
“Toward A New Model Of Teacher Professional Preparation And Development”
The article says the project’s aim was “analyzing how students think about the subject of physics — and how teachers engage, or fail to engage, their students’ ideas.” Jones is quoted in the article and a picture of him is included teaching in a Bellevue classroom. The project was titled, “Honing Diagnostic Practice: Toward a New Model of Teacher Professional Preparation and Development.”
Resident of Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood
Jones was 31 and lived in Seattle at the start of the sexual relationship with the student, which lasted from July of 2010 to March of 2011. A public database of Washington state voters shows Matthew James Jones, with the same middle name and the date of birth as given in the felony sex case court records, registered to vote in 2004 while residing in the 4000 block of Burke Ave. N., in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. Records indicate he last voted in November 2010 while registered there.
Escalating sexual relationship between 31-year-old teacher and 16-year-old student
According to the police report, which is accompanied by Jones’ guilty plea, the student would meet with Jones for sex in his Honda Civic in the parking lot at Lattawood Park, 15500 SE 46th Way in Bellevue. The police report by Bellevue Police Department Detective Jerry Johnson was based on interviews with the student, and Jones and details an escalating sexual relationship with weekly late night meetings for full intercourse, always in his car. The liaisons between the 31-year-old teacher and the 16-year-old student ended abruptly when two Bellevue police found the two of them completely naked in Jones’ vehicle in the park at 1:41 a.m. March 20, 2011. According to the report Jones “lied when he told the officers (the student) was 18 years old.”
While earning his Master’s in education at SPU, Jones worked a full-year internship in 2007 and 2008 in the Bellevue district’s Tillicum Middle School, followed by two-and-a-half-years at Tillicum as a science instructor starting in fall 2008, based on his LinkedIn profile (link, screenshot) and his state-documented resignation date of March 20, 2011. He originally met his victim as her 7th-grade integrated sciences teacher and served as her physics teacher in 8th grade, according to police reports. Also according to his LinkedIn profile, Jones pursued a degree in theology from Regent University in Vancouver, B.C. in between completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Washington in 2003 and starting on his Master’s in education in at SPU. At UW he was a member of University Christian Fellowship. His personal home page says Jones was a 1998 grad of Gig Harbor High School.
Heavy user of social media
From 2004 until his arrest last year, Jones lived out loud, online, and using a plethora of platforms; sometimes accenting his Christian faith and conservative politics and at other times his loves of music or science. He used Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Tumblr, Facebook, Flickr, Amazon and Goodreads, and wrote frequent posts at his blog, Matt Jones’ Random Acts of Verbiage. His topics there included books, science and music, as well as the trials of being a political conservative and a public school teacher, and his differences with the Bellevue teachers union over a strike vote.
Psychologist recommends treatment, supervision and work restrictions
Jones’ sentence includes recommendations from a psychologist that upon release from prison he should successfully complete a three-year sex offender treatment program, and have no contact with his victim, or any minors unless an approved chaperone who knows of his convictions is present. The psychologist also recommended Jones be barred from serving in any supervisory capacity over minors.