A 27-year-old anatomy teacher in Texas was arrested Monday, accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old student.
But that’s only one reason Sarah Madden Fowlkes is making national headlines.
The other is her smiling mugshot.
Wearing an ear-to-ear smile, Fowlkes looks like she’s posing for a new Facebook profile photo instead of a jailhouse mug.
“She grinned and bared it,” crowed the New York Post.
“Sarah Fowlkes seemed to find her arrest a joyous occasion,” snarked British tabloid The Sun.
Fowlkes turned herself in to police in Lockhart, Texas, about 35 miles from Austin, where authorities charged her with having an improper relationship with a student at Lockhart High, a second-degree felony.
Also on Monday, the Lockhart school district announced she was suspended from her teaching job at the high school and will not return to the district where she has worked since October 2014, reported the Hays Free Press in Kyle, Texas.
“Lockhart parents entrust their children to us every day, and it is something we do not take lightly. Student safety is the district’s most important priority,” superintendent of students Susan K. Bohn wrote to parents.
“As soon as we learned of the report, we acted swiftly to involve law enforcement and CPS to conduct a thorough investigation. The district does not and will not tolerate any improper communication or contact between a teacher and child.”
The district also notified the State Board for Educator Certification about Fowlkes’ conduct.
Lockhart police said a school administrator contacted them on March 10 that a teacher might have had an inappropriate relationship with a student currently enrolled at the high school.
Police discovered that a 17-year-old student had been in contact in person and through messages with Fowlkes, they said.
Police allege she engaged in “sexual content with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of the student.”
Lockhart police said they’d never investigated a teacher on such a charge.
“Seventeen years old is obviously older, but at the same time it doesn’t make anything right,” Detective Jesse Bell told KXAN in Austin.
“If the kid is in school, parents trust the school to take care of their kids, so it’s definitely not right — that a teacher in a position of power over a student be able to take advantage of a student.”
Fowlkes taught anatomy, physiology and environmental systems at the high school, where she started working in September according to her now-deleted profile on the school’s website.
“This is my third year as a teacher, my previous two years were spent at Plum Creek Elementary where I was a third and fifth grade science and social studies teacher,” she wrote. “I have very high expectations of myself as a teacher as well as of my students and I hope that this will be a formula for achievement.
“I want this to be an enjoyable year for all of my students but also a productive, challenging and encouraging year with success for everyone.”
Her social media suggest she celebrated her birthday with her husband the night before her arrest.