The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

September 27, 2012

Neosho teacher under investigation for alleged inappropriate electronic contact with student

NEOSHO, Mo. — The Newton County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a Neosho High School teacher in connection with alleged inappropriate electronic contact with a student, Sheriff Ken Copeland said Thursday.

Copeland said the investigation into the teacher — a man whose name he declined to disclose at this time — began when a parent, concerned about contact between the teacher and the parent’s 15-year-old daughter, contacted the department.

“There have been some allegations about some improper conversation concerning their daughter,” he said.

When asked to describe the content of the conversations and why the matter is being investigated as improper, Copeland said he wouldn’t discuss that. He acknowledged, when asked, that the conversations allegedly had taken place electronically, in the form of text messages.

Copeland said the parent is the only person who has lodged a complaint about the teacher with his department.

“We have been given some names of the possibility of others (student victims), and that’s what we’re checking into,” he said. “That’s what we haven’t substantiated yet. We’re in the process of that.”

Copeland said his department has confiscated the telephone of the student as well as the computer and telephone of the individual under investigation. All of the devices have been turned over to the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force for analysis, he said.

He said he hopes to have the investigation concluded within the next few days.

“Then it will be determined if there’s a criminal offense; (if there is) it will go to the prosecutor’s office,” he said. “If the allegations are not substantiated, it would be turned over to the school to be handled as a personnel issue.”

Copeland said administrators with the Neosho School District are “cooperating fully” with the investigation.

Superintendent Alma Stipp could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

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