A 41-year-old former Vernon High School science teacher pleaded guilty in 46th District Court in Wilbarger County, opting out of a possible grand jury indictment and jury trial.
Kami Dawn Mauldin, of Electra, was sentenced to 10 years of probation for having an improper relationship with a student, a statement from the Wilbarger District Attorney's Office said. She will have to register as a sex offender for the next five years, pay a $2,500 fine, lose her teacher's certificate and perform 100 hours of community service. Mauldin also is prohibited from making contact with the 15-year-old victim.
District Attorney Staley Heatly said Mauldin was officially charged with the offense Friday morning as part of the process for accepting a plea bargain before a grand jury indictment. With the deal, Mauldin avoided trial and a potential sentence of 2-20 years in prison.
Heatly said he discussed options with the family, as he does in all cases, before offering the plea arrangement.
"They have a very big say," he said of victims and their families. "We don't enter into a plea bargain like this unless it's something the family wanted to do."
Phone calls to Mauldin's attorney, Michael Payne, were not returned Friday.
The victim's family contacted Vernon High School principal Denise Cato on Dec. 3, the statement said, and told her of the relationship between their son and Mauldin. The district contacted county law enforcement officials the following day.
Wilbarger County Sheriff Larry Lee launched an investigation into the alleged misconduct Dec. 4 that included talking to people with knowledge of the relationship and collecting evidence.
That evidence was sent to the Texas Rangers for processing.
"It's all still at the lab," he said Friday morning. "It won't be needed (now)."
Lee said Mauldin was arrested at about 9:30 a.m. following her plea, taken to the county jail and released to the probation department.
The investigation revealed that Mauldin and the victim began the improper relationship in October and November.
Tom Woody, VISD superintendent, said Mauldin was originally placed on paid leave, then it changed to unpaid leave in December. He said Mauldin's termination will be finalized at Monday night's school board meeting.
The superintendent praised procedures by the school, sheriff's office and district attorney to adjudicate the case quickly so the district could move on. Although it showed Vernon isn't immune to these types of cases, it also showed that staff at the high school is able to pick up on possible issues.
"I think all of our staff members are aware of the signs," he said. "I think originally there wasn't enough that pointed to a crime being committed, but there was enough to know something wasn't right."
Follow John Ingle on Twitter @inglejohn1973.