The FBI is assisting local law enforcement on a case involving a West Texas teacher who allegedly took an underage student across state lines.
Stephanie Leann Lowery, a teacher with the Muleshoe Independent School District, was recently charged with unlawful restraint of a person under the age of 17. KCBD reported local law enforcement said Lowery took a student minor across state lines.
Lowery, 28, resigned from her teaching post on July 2 amid accusations that she behaved inappropriately. Since then, the school district removed her staff information from its website. However, KLBK reported Lowery taught at Watson Junior High School as a coach and a reading teacher.
On August 3, Muleshoe police arrested and charged Lowery with the unlawful restraint of a person under the age of 17. She posted a $1,000 bond and was released from the Bailey County Jail on the same day.
To date, few details are available about the allegations or the investigation. Finally, on Friday, Muleshoe ISD officials released a statement. They noted school district administrators received information “recently” that one of their employees “may have engaged in conduct involving a District student that violated the District’s educator code of ethics and, perhaps, state law.”
The Muleshoe ISD statement also explained that state and federal law prohibited them from “disclosing personally identifiable student information, as well as confidential personal information.” They said, “Moreover, since the District’s and law enforcement’s investigations are on-going, the District cannot provide further information on this matter.”
The school district said they followed the appropriate protocols once learning about the allegations against Lowery. “Pursuant to the District’s customary personnel practices, the employee was immediately placed on administrative leave, an internal investigation was initiated, and reports of the alleged allegations were made to appropriate law enforcement authorities and the state’s educator licensing agency.”
Online records for the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC), which is the state’s educator licensing agency, show Lowery is certified to instruct physical education in all grades. She also holds a generalist credential in grades four through eight. The SBEC flagged her as “currently under review by the TEA Educator Investigations Division.”
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) Educator Investigations (EI) Unit examines reported cases of alleged educator misconduct.
Muleshoe ISD officials said they will “cooperate with these state and local authorities to the fullest extent permitted by law, and will coordinate its own investigation with them.” They noted that, upon completion of its investigation, district administrators will decide what further action they will take based on the findings.
The Muleshoe Police Department also released a statement. “We are currently working together with the FBI on the investigation of this case,” stated police. “As it is still active and ongoing, no further information is available at this time.”
In Texas, the unlawful restraint of a person under the age of 17 is considered a state jail felony, if an individual is convicted of the offense.
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