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Mineola teacher arrested for relationship with student

By Doris Newman and Gary Edwards East Texas Community Newspapers
Dec. 16, 2010 at 7 p.m.

MINEOLA - A four-and-a-half-month investigation into an alleged improper relationship between a Mineola educator and a student culminated Thursday in the arrest of JoAnn Stephens, the wife of the high school principal.

Stephens, who is employed by the school district, is listed on the district's website as working with students in physical education at the elementary school and with girls athletics at the middle school. The alleged offense is thought to have taken place between Stephens and a male student who has since graduated.

In a prepared statement provided by Mineola Police Chief Chuck Bittner at a regularly scheduled city council workshop Thursday evening, the chief said his department received a complaint Aug. 4 from Child Protective Services, "regarding a reported inappropriate relationship between a Mineola ISD employee and a student."

"The safety of children always comes first and we investigate all complaints that come from CPS vigorously," the chief said.

After several months of investigation, Bittner's statement said, "the Mineola Police Department found that probable cause did exist for the offense of improper relationship between educator and student." The offense is a 2nd degree felony under the Texas Penal Code.

An arrest warrant was issued, he said, and Stephens turned herself in at the police station shortly after 3 p.m. Bittner said Stephens was driven to the police station by her husband and the arrest took place "without incident."

The chief said the investigation is continuing and there will "probably be other arrests related to perjury at a later date."



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