A Lockhart, Texas, high school science teacher was arrested Monday on a felony charge of having an improper relationship with a 17-year-old male student
A Texas high school science teacher is suspended from her job following her arrest Monday on a felony charge of having an improper relationship with a 17-year-old male student, PEOPLE confirms.
Sarah M. Fowlkes, 27, faces a possible punishment of two to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000 if convicted of the second-degree felony, Lockhart, Texas, Police Chief Ernest Pedraza tells PEOPLE.
Fowlkes has not been asked to enter a plea. “The case is still under investigation” and has not yet been taken to a grand jury, Caldwell County, Texas, District Attorney Fred Weber tells PEOPLE.
A call to Fowlkes’ attorney, Jason Nassour, was not immediately returned. He told KXAS, “This isn’t a guilty person sitting there like they just got caught. When everything’s fleshed out, it won’t be as it appears.”
Fowlkes has worked for the Lockhart Independent School District since October 2014, according to a statement on the district’s website that further confirmed her arrest and suspension.
“On the afternoon of Friday, March 10, before the start of spring break, the administration of Lockhart High School received a concerning report and quickly notified district administrators, who immediately reported the information to [Lockhart police], launched an investigation, and contacted Child Protective Services,” the district said.
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Chief Pedraza declined to elaborate on the alleged relationship between Fowlkes and the student. But he tells PEOPLE there was sufficient probable cause for an arrest warrant.
Police called Fowlkes to alert her, and she turned herself in on Monday, Pedraza says. She was booked and released from jail the same day, after posting $10,000 bond, but she could not immediately be reached by PEOPLE.
Asked to elaborate on the teacher-student relationship, Pedraza declined comment.
In a letter sent Monday to the parents and guardians of students, Lockhart Independent School District Superintendent Susan K. Bohn described the case as “very upsetting.”
“Every day, you trust your children to our care, and it is a responsibility we do not take lightly,” Bohn wrote. “As a parent of a Lockhart ISD student, I join you in feeling anger and disappointment in what happened. As an administrator, I will always take swift action against anyone who would violate the sacred trust between students and educators.”
Bohn wrote that Fowlkes will not return to the school district, which sent notice of her conduct to the State Board for Educator Certification.
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The school district is on spring break and was unavailable for further comment Wednesday.
The superintendent encouraged parents to talk with their students about what happened and to share any knowledge of the situation with Lockhart police.
“On behalf of the district and board of trustees, I want to assure parents we do not tolerate this kind of behavior and are fully cooperating with law enforcement and CPS,” Bohn said in a separate statement. “We will always take swift action to make sure concerns are properly investigated and actions taken to ensure student safety.”