CERES — Police on Thursday released more details about the relationship between a Whitmore Charter High School math teacher and one of his students, a 16-year-old girl who authorities say received sexually suggestive text messages from the man and later met with him to "make out."
Matthew Beale, 24, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of sending harmful matter to a minor and committing lewd and lascivious acts upon a minor, according to Ceres police. Both criminal charges are misdemeanors.
Sgt. Jose Berber said detectives learned that Beale sent "inappropriate and explicit text messages" to the teenage girl. The detectives discovered the student and the teacher corresponded via hundreds of text messages over the weekend.
Berber said one of those messages had Beale asking the student to send him "sexy" photos of herself. The detectives also found that Beale had sent the student a photograph of his genitals.
Monday, Beale and the student met in his classroom during lunchtime and "made out," Berber said.
The detectives met with Beale on Wednesday at his Turlock home, where he was shown copies of the text messages.
Berber said Beale admitted his involvement with the student. The detectives believe this is an isolated incident at Whitmore Charter.
The original report from the school incorrectly stated the girl was one of Beale's Advanced Placement math students. AP math is one of seven math classes Beale taught, and the girl to whom he sent text messages was not an AP student.
Beale has worked as a math teacher at Whitmore Charter High since August. He graduated from California State University, Stanislaus, with a teaching credential in May.
Prior to teaching, Beale worked at the Regional Water Safety Training Center in Empire, which is operated by the Police Activities League.
The seasonal job had Beale working May through September, but he was terminated in August, in part because of inappropriate advances he made toward female lifeguards, said PAL Executive Director Alfredo Guerra.
Two lifeguards reported receiving "unwanted" text messages from Beale. The messages were not sexual in nature, but Guerra was concerned because the texts made them uncomfortable and because one of the lifeguards was only 16.
Beale's employment ended at the beginning of August, right before he started at Whitmore Charter.
Ceres Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Denise Wickham said there were no red flags during Beale's hiring. He passed his background check, and all his references checked out. Wickham said PAL was not contacted because the district contacts only past employers, not current employers, and Beale was still employed with PAL when he applied for a teaching position.
Beale was booked at the Stanislaus County Jail on Wednesday evening but had been released from custody on $10,000 bail Thursday morning.
Assistant Superintendent Jay Simmonds said officials immediately placed Beale on paid administrative leave. Wednesday, he was "released from employment," Simmonds said. He would not say whether Beale was fired or resigned.