Yoakum High School

Yoakum High School

A Yoakum school district investigation determined a now-resigned teacher had engaged in an inappropriate and sexual communication with a student, a school official said Friday.

Specifically, the Yoakum High School teacher had verbally asked a student for pictures of the student’s body, said Tom Kelley, superintendent for the Yoakum Independent School District.

The district received the complaint on the morning of Nov. 5 from a student. By that afternoon, district officials had placed the teacher on paid administrative leave and begun their investigation into the communication.

There were no witnesses to the communication, Kelley said.

The Advocate is not naming the teacher because criminal charges have not been filed as of Friday.

That investigation had determined the complaint was valid by Nov. 8. The teacher resigned Nov. 7, effective immediately.

“The investigation did not determine any indication of a sexual assault or coerced physical sexual interaction,” Kelley said.

If the teacher had not resigned, Kelley said he would have recommended to the school board the teacher be fired. The board is responsible for such decisions.

The teacher had taught at the high school for more than 20 years and was teaching health at the time of the resignation.

The teacher has no criminal history, according to a records search.

District officials also ensured counseling was available for the student, whose parents were notified, Kelley said.

“Our paramount intention was to protect the student. Our main intention was to make sure the student was safe,” Kelley said.

Yoakum police have begun an investigation into the report, Police Chief Karl Van Slooten said Friday.

“The Yoakum school district did report an incident that occurred at the school immediately as it was reported to them, and Yoakum PD started an investigation into the complaint, which is still ongoing,” Van Slooten said.

No arrests have been made, he said.

DeWitt County District Attorney Rob Lassmann said his office is in communication with the department about their investigation.

He said he has not yet reviewed any police reports or spoken with officers.

Based on the limited information he has received, Lassmann said solicitation of a minor would be the most applicable charge.

“My assistant is helping (the Yoakum Police Department) with search warrants and general questions,” Lassmann said.

Although Lassmann described the investigation as in its early stages, he said his office could prosecute the teacher if certain criteria are met.

“If the investigation reveals a felony crime, my office will present the case to a grand jury,” Lassmann said. “If indicted, we would prosecute.”

Jon Wilcox reports on courts for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached jwilcox@vicad.com or 361-580-6515.

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Jon covers crime, public safety and the courts at the Victoria Advocate. Born in Huntsville, Ala., he grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism at Texas State University.

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