Rene Elena Carter, a former teacher at Capital High School in Helena, is accused of felony statutory rape for her alleged sexual relationship with a minor student.
In a complaint filed Tuesday, Helena police detective Kent Anderson alleges that Carter had repeated sexual intercourse between February 2015 and June 2015 with a minor male who was legally incapable of giving consent. Carter must appear in justice court by Jan. 30 on a charge of sexual intercourse without consent.
Helena Public Schools Superintendent Jack Copps confirmed the victim was a student and said Carter resigned on July 14, 2015.
Copps noted that he was not the superintendent at the time and is still getting up to speed on what happened. He said school district officials were aware of rumors that Carter was involved with a student "within the 2014-2015 school year."
"It would be wrong to say we weren't aware of it, because we were," Copps said.
However, Copps said no evidence of misbehavior between a teacher and a student was presented to the school district.
"The district didn't just turn its back and ignore its comments," he said. "The district did in fact try to understand if there was some basis to the rumors out there."
Copps also said it isn't clear whether the alleged relationship had anything to do with Carter's resignation.
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"Everything I've seen doesn't indicate that this teacher resigned because she was going to be fired," he said.
The Montana State Educator Information System shows Carter still has her teaching license.
Copps said the school district has a responsibility under state law to report to the Montana Board of Public Education if a teacher engages in immoral conduct. The board would then hold a hearing on whether to suspend or revoke the teacher's license. That information is reported to a national database. But Copps said there wasn't enough evidence to do so.
According to a Helena Independent Record story published in May 2015, Carter was nominated for Helena Educator of the Year that year.
A call to a phone number listed for Carter was not answered Wednesday.
Independent Record reporter Thomas Plank contributed to this story.
Editor's Note: This story has been corrected. Although charging documents describe the victim as a “minor who was legally incapable of giving his consent,” they do not specifically say whether the victim could not consent because of his age or as a result of other factors.