The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office has charged a Meigs Middle School teacher with two felonies after an investigation which began on December 11, 2019.
Joseph Michael Sparks, 48, was arrested for Failure to Report Suspected Child Neglect and Unlawful Relationships between Teachers and Students after an attentive parent discovered Sparks was involved in sending/receiving inappropriate text communications with one of his 13-year old students.
According to the arrest report, the victim’s cell phone revealed hundreds of text messages between the two. The messages detailed:
- The personal relationship as being intimate and romantic in nature.
- Discussions of how they loved each other.
- The victim told Sparks how she drank alcohol and took medications to harm herself.
But Sparks worried: The teacher told the student on multiple occasions to delete the text messages to prevent anyone from finding out. He also worried about her friends reporting it to law enforcement.
Tik Tok: Sparks admitted to investigators that over the Thanksgiving break he saw a video of the victim dancing in a Tik Tok video. He then asked the victim to send him a picture of her in her underwear.
According to the OCSO, the Okaloosa County School District has provided its full support and cooperation with the investigation.
“Yesterday after school hours, the School District received notification of the investigation and subsequent arrest of Mr. Sparks directly from law enforcement and is fully cooperating throughout this process”, said Okaloosa School District spokesperson Steve Horton.
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According to Horton, Sparks has been suspended as a result of the arrest and is not permitted on any school campus. He was also listed at a soccer coach at Meigs.
“If these allegations are proven true, the district will take all appropriate disciplinary action,” said Horton.
“There is no place in our community, let alone our schools, for the conduct alleged in this situation,” said Superintendent of Schools Marcus Chambers.
“As a parent, I was saddened when I was learned of this arrest. As Superintendent, my resolve to provide a safe, nurturing environment for each and every one of our students will never waver. If the allegations prove to be true, I will be recommending the immediate termination of this employee to our School Board.“
“Our school district and its employees will not tolerate the abuse of or harm towards children. I stand beside all of our amazing employees and will hold accountable those who fail to live up to the high standards of the school district. This is an expectation we rightly must meet.”
More information will be released as it becomes available. This is an active and ongoing investigation at this time.
If anyone has additional information regarding this investigation, please call the Sheriff’s Office Investigations Division at 850-609-2000.