Updated July 15 with suspect’s name, charges — St. Louis Public Schools has lost a second educator to violence in less than a year. Dunbar Elementary School Principal Jacara Sproaps was killed Wednesday night in south St. Louis.
Police said Thursday Sproaps, 38, was shot and killed outside her home in the Gravois Park neighborhood by a man angry with her over their past relationship.
Her boyfriend, Maurice Partlow, was also killed, and her 18-year-old son is in critical but stable condition at an area hospital.One of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers who responded to the scene was grazed in the shin by a bullet.
In charging documents, the suspect was identified as Maurice Hoskins, who allegedly repeatedly harassed Sproaps after she broke off a romantic relationship with him. Charging documents also identified Maurice Partlow as Sproaps’ friend, not her current boyfriend.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce charged Hoskins with two counts of murder in the first degree, one count of assault causing serious injury, five counts of armed criminal action and two counts of assault against a law enforcement officer. He is in being held on a $2 million cash-only bond.
Twyla Baylor taught at Dunbar, which is located at 1415 N. Garrison Ave., under Sproaps’ leadership. She said Thursday she was in disbelief that her former principal is dead.
“She was a person who gave her all. And she motivated me, and encouraged me to give my all. Not so much by words, but also by her actions,” Baylor said. “She did so much for kids. She loved kids.”
“She was there for me when I had challenging moments. She stuck by my side and she was more than a principal, she was more than a friend, she was like a sister. But she was my principal, and I respected her in that role.”
“She should be remembered as a great all around person. Prinicipal, educator, mother — let me first say that: mother," Baylor said. "Christian lady, very church-oriented lady who loved God. And all I can say is we are going to miss her and we are going to be left with a huge void.”
A statement released by St. Louis Public Schools spokesperson Patrick Wallace said the district “suffered a great loss today with the tragic passing of Jacara Sproaps. Our hearts are heavy and we pray for her family and friends.
"Ms. Sproaps was a talented and dedicated principal and a true champion for children. ... She will be missed by her students and co-workers in the district, but she will never be forgotten.”
In an interview, Wallace said the loss of a principal touches everyone at the school.
“It’s sad whenever anyone on your team passes away whatever role they have, but as a principal they’re the leader of the building," Wallace said. “It’s a huge loss for a school like Dunbar to lose their principal. And it will be devastating for the students and the staff.”
"When there’s a loss like this the children suffer greatly," Wallace added, saying that the district sent letters home to the families of students that attend Dunbar notifying them of Sproaps' death, and that the building will have grief counselors on hand when staff and students return to school in August.
The district also called all Dunbar staff Thursday to make sure they heard the news.
Wallace said Sproaps was a talented and dedicated principal and that under her leadership Dunbar qualified for a fully accredited rating from the state last year.
"She was serious about her craft. She was serious about helping her students get better and helping her staff do a better job,” Wallace said.
As a district principal, Spoaps' was scheduled to return to work for the 2016-17 school year on Monday.
Her death comes less than four months after the death of St. Louis Public Schools teacher Jocelyn Peters, who taught at Mann Elementary. Peters was seven months pregnant when she was killed.
Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.