Law enforcement began investigating a teacher at an alternative school after being told about a note to a student that contained sexual content, according to administrators at the Alpha School.
Administrators said they contacted child protective services on Nov. 25, the same day they learned of sexual material allegedly written by Ty J. Warner, a math teacher for junior and senior high students.
Police got involved two days later and were told by the 14-year-old student that she and Warner had been carrying on a consensual sexual relationship, according to a police report.
Warner, 28, appeared in court Tuesday on two counts of sexual assault of a child by touching and one count of witness tampering. Douglas County Judge Marcena Hendrix set Warner’s bail at $25,000; he must pay $2,500, or 10 percent, to be released.
Warner’s attorney Jim McGough disputed the charges and abuse allegations.
“Mr. Warner will cooperate in the investigation to clear his name of these terrible accusations,” McGough said. “He is saddened that his distinguished teaching position is in jeopardy over such untrue charges.”
Prosecutors said Warner had a relationship with the 14-year-old girl while he was a teacher at the Alpha School, an alternative school for students with behavioral or emotional conditions that have caused them to leave traditional schools.
The two counts of sexual assault stem from contact with the girl on two occasions in November, prosecutors said. The girl continues to attend the school.
Alpha School’s human resources director, Mark McQueen, said a student first alerted a staff member to the “inappropriate communication” between Warner and the alleged victim.
Warner also tried to get another teacher to destroy written evidence of the relationship, prosecutors allege.
If convicted, Warner would face up to five years in prison or five years of probation on each sexual assault count. He would face probation or up to 20 months in prison on the witness-tampering count.
The Alpha School, at 1615 S. Sixth St., is jointly operated by Cass, Dodge, Douglas, Sarpy and Washington Counties. It is not part of the Omaha Public Schools.
The school has an enrollment of 67 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. It is one of a dozen schools in the Omaha area specializing in treating and educating kids with emotional or behavioral problems who are referred there by public schools.
According to the school’s website, “students are typically referred to Alpha School because they are physically aggressive, verbally aggressive, or display other behaviors that affect their academic and/or social progress.”
Warner was put on paid administrative leave on Nov. 25, pending the outcome of an internal investigation, McQueen said. Warner has taught at the school for five years.
McQueen would not confirm whether the school was investigating any other staff members, including the teacher whom Warner allegedly pressured to get rid of evidence.
The school has “all sorts of policies governing professional behavior, ethical behavior, sexual harassment, typical standard policies most employers have,” McQueen said. “Not to mention contractual agreements with staff members prohibiting inappropriate conduct.”
World-Herald staff writer Erin Duffy contributed to this report.