A Bulloch County middle school teacher was arrested Wednesday after the parents of a 14-year-old student told authorities she had sex with the boy.
Amy Bass Jackson, 35, resigned from her position as an eighth grade language arts teacher at William James Middle School earlier this week, Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson said.
Jackson was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon after an investigation that took about a week. She is charged with aggravated child molestation, three counts of child molestation, statutory rape, enticing a child for indecent purposes, sexual assault by a person with supervisory or disciplinary authority, two counts computer or electronic child exploitation, sexual exploitation of children and six counts of furnishing harmful material to minors, he said.
Jackson was the victim's teacher.
"Investigators were made aware of the relationship when the juvenile and his parents filed a complaint alleging sexual intercourse between Jackson and the juvenile," Anderson said.
The first report was made July 13.
Bulloch County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lewis Holloway said Jackson resigned after the investigation began. No incidents took place on school property and she did not use school equipment in her interactions with the boy, he said.
"I truly believe this is an isolated incident," he said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. What happened "is fundamentally wrong. You can't do social networking with a student. You shouldn't be calling a student."
Jackson apparently used popular social networks and cell phones to communicate with the victim, as well as having physical contact with him.
"It's just inherently wrong," Holloway said. "Anyone knows this. I would tell parents I am confident their children are safe in our schools and our teachers are honorable."
Bulloch County Board of Education members plan to review school policies and possibly create a new policy regarding teacher/student interaction through social media, he said.
"Every teacher understands there is a social distance between students and teachers, a barrier that is not to be crossed," Holloway said. "You don't ‘friend' a student on Facebook."
Holloway said Jackson was a "well liked, well loved" eighth grade language arts teacher who worked for the Bulloch County school system for three years. She "came highly recommended" from the Candler County school system and has been teaching for 13 years, he said. Holloway said there was nothing negative found in her background check.
Bulloch County Board of Education Chairman David Ball said the incident struck close to home, as his own son attended William James Middle School and would attend Statesboro High School when classes start for the 2011-12 school year on Monday.
"We're never ready for something like this," he said. "It's like a firestorm shows up in your lap and you have to do something about it. We hope this never happens again - we're all shocked. It never should have happened."
Holloway said counseling would be available for students who may be upset or confused by the incident.
"We regret the impact this isolated incident will have on the affected parties and will continue to support them in their efforts to heal," he said.
Support for the victim is in place, too, he said.
Also, "I am aware that some students not involved are upset, and we will provide counseling" for them as well. We're treating this like a crisis."
There is no indication at this time that Jackson acted inappropriately with any other students, he said.
Jackson's alleged behavior is not a reflection on the Bulloch County school system's teachers, he said. Jackson was an exemplary teacher, but "We have no tolerance for this type of behavior."
After her arrest, Jackson was taken to the Bulloch County Jail, where she remains without bond, according to jail records.
Anderson said the investigation continues and the case has been turned over to the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit District Attorney's office for prosecution.