Sonya Russell, a 40-year-old Waterloo resident, has been charged with two counts of luring by computer, invitation to sexual touching and sexual exploitation. She was arrested Wednesday.
Russell appeared in a Kitchener court Thursday afternoon and a publication ban was put into effect.
“The charges relate to allegations of inappropriate interaction between the accused and two male students at the school,” police said Thursday.
Police spokesperson Olaf Heinzel said the alleged inappropriate activity occurred over the past year.
News of the allegations against the history and social sciences teacher came as a shock to the school community.
“This is very unsettling news for us. We really put student safety at the forefront of everything that we do,” said Laura Hodgins, superintendent of education for the Waterloo Region District School Board.
Students and parents with concerns about the matter are welcome to call Preston High School and speak to principal Bill Lemon, Hodgins said.
Prior to Thursday’s hearing, school board officials said Russell was placed on “home duty” for the time being; she will continue to receive pay while working from home.
“We’re co-operating fully with the police investigation and we are awaiting the outcome of that investigation in terms of what further action we will be taking,” Hodgins said.
Russell maintained a public Twitter account where she actively corresponded with students.
Her husband is also a teacher at Preston High School.
Since the arrest was made, several young people have taken to using the hash tag “#FreeSonya” on Twitter in support of the teacher.
Pending the investigation, the school board will also review current policies regarding staff and teacher use of computers and technology.
The police investigation continues and anyone with information can call police at 519-650-8500, ext. 8646, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
With files from Fran Barrick
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