A woman who taught math at an intermediate school in Pasadena has been charged with engaging in improper relationships with four students who are now enrolled in high school.
The Harris County District Attorney's Office charged LaShawn Simmons, 41, with five felony counts following the results of an investigation. She resigned from the Pasadena Independent School District in January to avoid being terminated.
Simmons made arrangements on Tuesday morning to surrender to Harris County authorities, according to a statement released Thursday by Pasadena ISD.
The five charges against Simmons include one count of sexual assault of a child under 17, a second-degree felony,and two counts of engaging in an improper relationship between an educator and a student, which is also classified as a second-degree felony.
Simmons is also charged with online solicitation of a minor and possession of child pornography, both counts which are classified as third-degree felonies.
"Everyone was talking about it. All of the kids are waiting to see if it is even true because she was a really good teacher and all the kids got along with her. When I heard I was shocked everyone knew Ms. Simmons at Beverly Hills Intermediate," said Jasmine Hernandez, a senior student at J. Frank Dobie High School.
The students, two adults and two juveniles, are currently enrolled at Dobie High School in Pasadena ISD. Beverly Hills Intermediate School serves as a seventh- and eighth-grade feeder campus for Dobie High School.
"The allegations are very serious," said Dr. Kirk Lewis, Pasadena ISD superintendent. "Any time a teacher violates the trust of a child, it makes it more difficult for the majority of teachers who genuinely care for the safety and well-being of students. We will continue to work together in the Pasadena ISD to provide a safe environment for our children to learn."
Following a two-month investigation into Simmons, Pasadena ISD police sought charges against her. The investigation resulted from a complaint from a concerned parent regarding alleged online messaging between her child and Simmons on a social media network.
"I think she should go to jail, because that is not okay," said Gardenia Sobernis, a student at Dobie High School.
After the complaint was filed on Dec. 10, 2012, Simmons was immediately placed on administrative leave without access to students at Beverly Hills Intermediate School. She had taught there over a 14-year period.
"Teachers are there to help not to take advantage of us. I think she should to jail," said Aranza Ibanez, a sophomore at Dobie High School.
"School is supposed to be a safe place to be, not a place where you come and you don't know if a teacher is going to try and do something with you," said Emily Umantor, another Dobie High School student.
"People were shocked and saying 'Oh my God, I had that teacher. How could she do that? What if she had done that to me?'," said Stephanie Espinosa, a Dobie High School sophomore student.
Anyone with information related to this case are encouraged to contact Trae Morris, detective with the Pasadena ISD Police Department, by phone at 713-740-0063.