A former Simi Valley elementary school teacher has pleaded not guilty to having a sexual relationship with a boy student.
Malia Brooks, 32, who worked as a sixth-grade teacher at Garden Grove Elementary, was arrested Tuesday by Simi Valley police on suspicion of having a sexual relationship with a child under 14 years old.
She started at the school in 2004 and her employee evaluations were “exemplary,” said Cary Dritz, assistant superintendent at Simi Valley Unified School District.
Brooks is charged with one count of a lewd act upon a child, oral copulation of a child under 14 and three counts of sexual penetration of a child under 14. She faces up to 16 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said they consider Brooks a flight risk. Her bail is set at $2 million.
A parent notified the district of the alleged relationship Feb. 21, Dritz said. The next day, the district alerted police, who investigated for four months, leading to Brooks’ arrest this week.
Brooks was put on paid leave during the investigation before resigning June 5.
The district informed parents of the investigation earlier this week.
“She was a highly desirable teacher and many of the parents were in disbelief,” Dritz said. “Many were supportive of her but the majority were for the school as a whole.”
The district informed parents of Brooks’ arrest in a letter sent out Wednesday.
“We understand that these charges are a shock to anyone who might currently have or has had an association with Malia Brooks,” states the letter, signed by school Principal Mary E. Curtis. “I want every parent and student to know that we will do everything to continue to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment for all students.”
Brooks is married with two children, authorities said.