Fulton police continue to investigate Fulton employee for alleged 'inappropriate electronic contact'

Fulton police continue to investigate...

FULTON, Mo. - Fulton police are investigating allegations of "inappropriate electronic contact" between a female student and an employee of Fulton Public Schools. The district requested police begin the investigation on Friday.

As of Monday, Fulton police Chief Steve Myers said the investigation is still ongoing.

Police said the employee and the student were communicating through Snapchat and, although messages on Snapchat disappear after a few seconds, the student took screenshots of the conversation and showed them to a "trusted adult", according to Superintendent Jacque Cowherd.

"The positive of what happened Friday was the fact that our high school principal and his staff have created a culture for students to come forward when they know something's wrong and express that to a trusted individual," said Cowherd. 

He said the conversation was not school-related and "obscene."

Fulton Public Schools policy states that teachers and employees can communicate with students electronically for education purposes but Cowherd said Monday that that communication, with some exceptions, should never be one-on-one.

"The person involved in this has been through extensive policy training," he said. " From the evidence we have, this was obvious, blatant disrespect for the policies and disrespect for the individuals."

Cowherd said he is considering more training, but didn't want to go overboard based on the rarity of these instances happening among the 400 staff members. 

"I have asked the principals to remind their staff of the electronic communications policies on student, staff conduct," he said. "I'm just asking them to make sure everybody knows the policies. Think about what you're doing."

In an email to Fulton High School parents Friday, Cowherd said that to the district's knowledge, "no physical contact has been determined."

Myers confirmed Monday that police have not yet determined there was physical contact, but he said they are still in the process of interviewing several students.

A new state law that went into effect Jan. 1 states that a anyone associated with the school district who has sexual contact with any student, whether they are of the age of consent or not, will face Class E felony charges. The law extends to teachers, student teachers, school employees, volunteers or elected officials, and even a person employed by an entity that contracts with public schools.

At this point, Myers said since there has been no evidence of sexual contact with the female student or others, and the employee has not been arrested.

Should police recommend charges at the conclusion of their investigation, the Callaway County prosecutor will decide whether to charge the employee.

The district said it will consider what action to take once the police have finished their investigation.

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