Further investigation into allegations that a former Woden ISD teacher had been involved in an inappropriate texting relationship resulted in her being arrested on four felony charges because she is now accused of having improper relationships with two students.
Kelly Diann Searles, 45, of Nacogdoches, is still being held in the Nacogdoches County Jail on two second-degree felony improper relationship between an educator and student charges and two second-degree felony indecency with a child by sexual contact charges.
No bond amounts have been set for Searles’ charges yet.
Searles was arrested at her home on Lakewood Street at about 9 a.m. Monday morning, according to a press release from the Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Office.
The press release stated that Woden ISD Superintendent Brady Taylor contacted Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges about concerns he had in regard to a teacher that had been texting a student.
“Woden ISD became aware of allegations that a WISD teacher was exchanging text messages with a student, which in this case, was a violation of Woden ISD Board policy, regardless of the content of the communications,” the press release stated. “A full investigation was immediately launched with cooperation from the student, parents, and educator. In the investigation, no sexual contact between the educator and student was found.”
The teacher, who hadn’t been identified at that point, resigned immediately because of the violation of the school district’s policies. “On January 12, 2018, the Nacogdoches County Sheriff Office launched an official investigation on Kelly Searles,” the press release stated. “The Sheriff Office identified possible victims and witnesses in the investigation, but they were hesitant to speak with law enforcement. Sheriff investigators received enough information in the investigation to have probable cause to seize the phone of the suspect. “
At that point, the sheriff’s office got a search warrant for Searles’ cell phone, so they could analyze all of the data on it, the press release stated. “With the assistance of the Texas Department of Public Safety, investigators obtained evidence from the phone that clearly showed that the suspect had previous relationships with two students.,” the press release stated.
After law enforcement identified the alleged victims in the case, forensic interviews were conducted with both witnesses at Harold’s House in Nacogdoches. The press release stated that investigators analyzed hundreds of text messages, pictures, and other information before they obtained the warrants for Searles’ arrest.
“The Sheriff Office would like to recognize Woden ISD for their prompt action in this case,” the press release stated. “Due to their due diligence, law enforcement was able to recover key evidence in the case in a timely manner. We would also like to thank the Texas Department of Public Safety for their assistance in this investigation.
“Woden ISD became aware of allegations that a WISD teacher was exchanging text messages with a student, which in this case, was a violation of Woden ISD Board policy, regardless of the content of the communications,” Taylor said. “A full investigation was immediately launched with cooperation from the student, parents, and educator. In the investigation, no sexual contact between the educator and student was found.”
Taylor said because the mode of communication itself was a violation of the school district’s policies, the teacher resigned, “effective immediately.”
“Woden ISD takes allegations of inappropriate educator/student relationships extremely seriously, and it is our mission to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of all WISD students at all times,” Taylor said. “Our swift investigation and action in this case reflect that mission.”