A Simi Valley teacher was arrested and charged with having an inappropriate, sexual, relationship with a child under the age of 14. Malia Brooks said she is suffering from a mental illness and is receiving treatment, but she is currently being held on $2 million bail.
Brooks appeared in court yesterday and pleaded not guilty to the five charges brought against her, which include: one count of a lewd act upon a child; one count of oral copulation of a person under 14; and three counts of genital penetration by a foreign object, with a person under 14.
She was a sixth grade teacher at Garden Grove Elementary School, and allegations of an inappropriate relationship surfaced three months ago. Brooks was on paid administrative leave from March until June, when she was arrested by police.
"It's presently an investigation by the Simi Valley Police Department, and until there is a conclusion, we are not going to make any comments," Assistant Superintendent Cary Dritz told ABC 7 back in March.
Parents initially refused to believe that Brooks would engage in any such behavior and described her as a "wonderful teacher, a wonderful person." Many actually felt sorry for the teacher being accused of an inappropriate relationship.
"I'm very disturbed by the whole situation, in the fact that people no longer, in our community or state, can be good teachers, because you are no longer innocent until proven guilty," parent Mindy Verdina said in March.
Now that Brooks has been formally charged, and more details released, parents' opinions appear to be changing.
"We've lived here for over 40 years and all my three boys went to school here at Garden Grove," Sal Menchaca said. "It's sad because these are all young kids."
"I would like to reassure parents and guardians that the school and the district has taken every precaution to ensure the safety of students and staff at our schools," Superintendent Kath Scroggin said in a statement to NBC.