AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Bowie High School teacher is on administrative leave and facing a felony charge for allegedly sexually assaulting a child.
The school sent out an email to parents saying Austin police issued an arrest warrant Monday evening.
The arrest affidavit identifies the 23-year-old teacher as Erica Dinora Gomez. She is listed as a math teacher on the school’s website.
Police say the mother of a 15-year-old boy called them on Oct. 7 to report a sexual assault after she looked at her son’s phone and found sexually explicit Snapchat messages from a woman, according to an arrest affidavit. The mother looked her up online and realized it was her son’s former math tutor, who now works as a teacher at Bowie.
Gomez told police she met the victim in January, but they didn’t start having a sexual relationship until August, according to an affidavit. Police say the two only met intimately outside of the school. She faces sexual assault of a child and improper relationship between educator and student charges.
The school confirmed Gomez worked as a substitute at Bowie High School for 8 days in spring 2018. She began working as a math teacher there in August.
Checking your child’s social media accounts is something parents say is more important now than ever before.
“I think it just reinforces the need to have that continuous dialogue with our children about what is safe, what is appropriate and if something seems amiss or feels wrong then they need to bring it to our attention,” said Bowie High parent Catherine Clark.
Any romantic relationship between a student and teacher is illegal. But Austin ISD’s employee standards of conduct regarding social media goes even further. The policy states that a teacher should only talk with a student about school outside of the classroom unless the student is family or perhaps the child of an adult friend. Also, teachers should never talk with a student between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Police say this family was good at monitoring what their student was looking at but admits it’s difficult to see everything.
“I will say this, sometimes where there is a will there is a way and kids get in, create accounts without parents knowing and stuff like that, so it’s just a matter of open dialogue and continuing to work with your kids to find out what they are using,” said APD Detective Brandon Poe.
District officials met with dozens of parents Tuesday in the Bowie High School auditorium, where they discussed the arrest and parents’ concerns.
In the parent meeting, AISD Police Chief Ashley Gonzalez says he addressed rumors that had been spreading since the school sent out notice of the allegations.
“Parents have a lot of questions. You know, their children attend this school. There’s some concerns. There’s some frustration. There’s some sadness,” Gonzalez said. “We wanted to make sure that they have the correct facts coming from us.”
Gonzalez says the district sent a recommendation for Gomez’s termination to the board of trustees.
He stressed that any students or parents with information or concerns relevant to the investigation should reach out to a school resource officer.
He added that additional counselors will be on hand this week for students who may need extra support.