By Jena Johnson - email
MINEOLA, TX (RAYCOM NEWS NETWORK) - A Mineola teacher and former Diboll girls basketball coach has been charged with having an improper relationship with a student.
The Mineola Police Department arrested 43-year-old Jo Ann Stephens on Dec. 16 on charges of an improper relationship with a student. The student has since graduated from Mineola High School.
Stephens served at Diboll ISD as the girls basketball coach during the 1990s, leading them to an undefeated season in district play in the 1994-95 season.
The alleged incident took place between Stephens and a 15-year-old male student, in May of 2008 at Lake Holbrook, in Mineola. DNA found in a truck links the student to the accused teacher.
Stephens and the student reportedly were communicating by cell phone calls and text messages on a trac phone that she provided for the student.
Stephens has resigned as an elementary and middle school physical education teacher at Mineola ISD.
She has been released from jail on a $25,000 bond.
"I think it's shocking especially in a small town where everybody knows everybody," said Mineola teacher Deborah Carder.
Court documents allege Stephens had a relationship with the student for years, keeping in contact through text and phone conversations.
Police say Stephens also provided the student with a cell phone, bought him candy, gifts, clothes and money.
But perhaps the most damning evidence, police say, happened in a secluded RV park.
According to this arrest affidavit, witnesses told police they saw Stephens and a student kissing in a truck at Keys Creek Park in Mineola. Later on, suspicions were confirmed by DNA samples found in that truck.
"I'm appalled," said Wendy Anderson, a grandmother of a Mineola student. "My granddaughter is fixing to go into high school and that's just wrong and they need to prosecute here as hard as they can."
Anderson's granddaughters currently attend Mineola Elementary and Middle School. Stephens coached and taught at both schools.
The superintendent refused to give parents an explanation on how the district plans to handle the situation, Only releasing a statement that Stephens had resigned.
Anderson says that's not the answer parents deserve.
"I don't have words for that, but total anger and disappointment in the school system that they would even let something like this happen," she said.
An attempt to reach Stephens at her residence was not successful.
Anderson says she now is second-guessing the school district she once trusted.
"We've been in Mineola for 20 years," she said. "Yeah, that's mind blowing."