A 32-year-old former art teacher at Mayflower High School pleaded not guilty Monday to two charges of first-degree sexual assault against a student, according to a representative from Judge Charles E. Clawson’s office.
Jessica Kaplan, who was a teacher at Mayflower High School at the time when she was arrested, is accused of starting an “inappropriate relationship” with one of her students, according to court documents. A male student, who was 17 years old, had text messages with Kaplan on his phone, police said in a statement.
In an interview with the Mayflower Police Department, Kaplan told authorities that she had a relationship with the minor that included two sexual encounters and “multiple inappropriate text messages and phone conversations,” according to court documents.
Police said Kaplan told investigators that the first encounter took place on May 6 in her classroom. The ex-teacher told authorities that “the two became intimate in the classroom and moved to the classroom closet to engage in sex,” according to a probable cause affidavit. Authorities said Kaplan reported the second encounter took place two days later in Kaplan’s car after she gave the teen a ride home.
The two counts of sexual assault are each class A felony offenses. Arkansas Code § 5-14-124 specifies that if a person who is “an employee in the victim’s school or school district” engages in sexual activity with a minor, any such actions constitute sexual assault in the first degree.
Mayflower School District Superintendent John Gray said that Kaplan was no longer employed by the district. At a Monday night board meeting, her contract was terminated, Gray said.
Kaplan’s next court appearance, a pretrial hearing, is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 4 in Faulkner County Circuit Court.