Hayley Hallmark, a Florida middle school teacher, has been charged for having a two-year sexual relationship with a female student, according to the New York Post.
Hallmark was charged with lewd and lascivious conduct with a student by an authority figure.
The 35-year-old teacher will be suspended without pay if a recommendation is approved, according to the Northwest Florida Daily News.
“Okaloosa County teachers represent the highest standard of professionalism, ethics, and morality,” Superintendent Marcus Chambers said in a statement. “When an educator fails to live up to that high standard, we’re all impacted.
“Student safety and well-being is our highest priority, and we expect our employees’ conduct to be consistent with that priority.”
From the report:
The victim, who is now 17, told investigators Thursday she was an eighth-grader at the school when she and Hallmark started trading text messages in August 2017, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said.
A year later, the pair then started “sexting” when the student, then 15, began ninth grade — with Hallmark and the girl trading nude photographs and talking about cuddling on Snapchat, an arrest report shows.
Over the course of the past year alone, a handful of teachers have been arrested on similar charges, including 25-year-old substitute teacher Alexis Mercedes Boberg in Baltimore, Beulah High School teacher Kelsie Schmidt in North Dakota, Rancocas Valley Regional High School teacher Alexandra Reiner in New Jersey, and 50-year-old Florida substitute teacher Angela Jean Stanton in Florida. Additionally, Texas teachers Meredith Null and Edna Longoria were arrested on similar charges.
As for why the number of these incidents has seemingly increased, studies suggest that smartphones are the primary reason for the spike in illicit relationships, as it allows teachers to communicate with the minors without supervision.
According to a report from the Texas Education Association, smartphones make it easy for teachers to privately text and talk with students and also make it possible for teachers and students to share explicit images.