Malia brooks, a teacher, was charged with being in an inappropriate relationship with an elementary student in Southern California, with her lawyer claiming she was suffering from “mental illness.”
“We’ve had her diagnosed and she’s in treatment,” her attorney Ron Bamieh said outside Ventura County Superior Court, where she was arraigned.
Brooks, a 32-year-old mother of two who taught at Garden Grove Elementary School in Simi Valley, is currently being held on $2 million bail, reported NBC Los Angeles. Brooks is accused of engaging in lewd acts with a 14-year-old male student.
Bamieh said, “My guess is a lot of the charges precipitated from that illness.”
Police in Simi Valley said they first heard about the inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a student in February.
According to reports, Brooks was later placed on paid leave in March. KTLA reported that she has since resigned from her job.
“I would like to reassure parents and guardians that the school and the district has taken every precaution to ensure the safety of students and staff at our schools,” Simi Valley Unified School District Superintendent Kathy Scroggin said in a statement obtained by NBC.
She described Brooks as “an exemplary teacher.”
Parent Lina Centeno told ABC-7 in Los Angeles that her son was in Brooks’ sixth-grade class and never noticed anything amiss about her.
“Each child is different and we had to explain things very soon that we weren’t ready to discuss,” she said. Centeno called her a great teacher.
“She’s very nice with our students, and this is unbelievable about how this happened,” former student Alan Cabrera told ABC.