A Moulton Middle School teacher was arrested Monday afternoon after allegedly engaging in sexual misconduct with a Lawrence County High School student, authorities said.
The teacher, Taylor Brooks Boyles, 27, of 5216 County Road 87, Moulton, was charged with the offense of a school employee engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student under the age of 19. The offense is a Class B felony, which is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to $30,000 in fines.
Lawrence County Superintendent Jon Bret Smith said he initially received information regarding the alleged sexual activity on Thursday, May 18, and quickly acted.
"Within two hours, we had followed up on the issue and investigated the matter," Smith said. "At that time, we placed the teacher on administrative leave."
Smith said he contacted authorities after receiving the information, and Sheriff Gene Mitchell said his department, along with the help of the Moulton Police Department, conducted an investigation which included interviews with Boyles and other people with knowledge of the situation.
"We met with them and got what information they had," Mitchell said. "They pretty well gave us all the information we needed and we were able to put a case together."
Mitchell said the student involved is an 18-year-old senior at Lawrence County High School.
Boyles turned herself in at the Lawrence County Jail on Monday afternoon and was released shortly afterward on a $10,000 bail.
Mitchell said this case was different than many other sex cases involving teachers and students, in that Boyles never taught the student, and never even taught at the same school the student attended.
"Even though she was never his teacher, technically under the law it's still prohibited," Mitchell said. "None of the activity took place at school, which puts a different light on it. None of it involved school activities in any way."
Mitchell said Boyles' family and the family of the student were friends, and the two knew each other outside of the school environment.
He said the investigation found there was no long-term relationship, and was only a short fling, with sexual activity happening a few times in the month of May.
"I don't think the school had anything to do with it happening," Mitchell said. "They were family friends. The student would have been of age (19) in October, and graduates this month. So if the activity had happened in June, it would have been legal."
Despite the fact Boyles was not the student's teacher, Smith said the situation still can paint the entire school system in a bad light.
"This makes me hurt for a lot of different reasons," Smith said. "I hate for something like this to take the spotlight from our good employees. Lawrence County schools employs hundreds of great people, and I hate for one thing to leave a black mark on the system when we have so much good going on."
Smith said teachers in the system participate in training throughout the year dealing with sexual situations.
"Instances such as this were mentioned at the (school system) institute, which every employee attends at the beginning of the year," Smith said. "We also have to do Erin's Law training, which deals with sexual abuse, and I would say that several times throughout the year, it is mentioned at a principal's meeting."
According to the Lawrence County Schools' website, Boyles is a fifth-grade math and social studies teacher. It said Boyles was a 2008 graduate of Lawrence County High and 2012 graduate of the University of North Alabama.
Boyles was a teacher in the Lawrence County School System from 2013-14 before becoming an auxiliary teacher in the pre-K program in 2014-15, according to the website.
She was hired full time beginning in the 2015-16 school year.
After the allegations were made, Boyles was immediately placed on administrative leave until the end of the school year, which is today.
At Monday night's Lawrence County Board of Education meeting, Boyles was one of five teachers in the system not to have their non-tenured contracts renewed.