ST.CHARLES, Mo. - A former teacher at Francis Howell North High School was charged Tuesday morning with reportedly having sexual relations with a female student.
According to police, Matthew Howard of St. Charles is facing three counts of having sexual contact with a student. Howard, 29, turned himself in at the St. Charles County Jail that afternoon.
Investigators said Howard was teaching at the high school last December when he had a sexual encounter with a 17-year-old student at a residence in the 1000 block of South 6th Street in St. Charles.
Court documents reveal the student told authorities that Howard had been her homeroom teacher but was not one of her teachers when the alleged episode happened. The student also said in court documents that there was just one encounter.
St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar said even though the student was of legal age at the time of the episode, the encounter is still illegal.
"What makes this a crime is the fact that she was a current student and he was a current teacher when this sexual encounter took place," Lohmar said.
Lohmar said it came to light when the student told a friend who then told her mother. That parent then went to school administrators.
Chip Crow, a teacher at Francis Howell North, said he knew Howard but said he never noticed anything suspicious.
"It's really unfortunate because education is a student-teacher bond and it seems as though there was a crossing of that line if you will," Crow said.
The Francis Howell School District released the following statement Tuesday morning:
The Francis Howell School District has cooperated fully with law enforcement officials and the Missouri Department of Social Services in their investigation of the charges against former FHN teacher Matthew Howard. Mr. Howard’s employment with the District ended on March 13 after administrators were made aware of the allegations.
All FHSD job applicants are required to obtain a clear criminal records check and a clear check of the Child Abuse/Neglect Registry maintained by the Missouri Department of Social Services. As part of the criminal records check, any person seeking employment with the District submits fingerprints to be used by the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. All candidates for employment are required to sign a release of liability authorizing prior employers, including school districts, to furnish any information about the applicant and the applicant’s work performance, including but not limited to discipline records and performance evaluations.
The safety of our students and staff is always a top priority of FHSD. The District has strict policies and regulations prohibiting inappropriate conduct toward students and/or staff, provides continuing training and monitoring regarding such policies, and always takes prompt and appropriate action upon receiving reports of any violation of those policies. Accordingly, all investigations and decisions, whether involving the current matter or any other, have been and will be made with the best interests of our students.