MODESTO -- A 41-year-old Enochs High School teacher in Modesto has resigned and moved in with an 18-year-old student.
The reaction has been largely shock, disapproval and betrayal.
The teen's mother has waged a very public campaign on Facebook since last week, when her daughter moved out of the family's home and into a Modesto apartment with the man. He has left his wife and children, one of whom is a junior at Enochs.
Modesto police are investigating whether there was inappropriate contact before the girl turned 18 in the fall.
And school district and teachers union officials worry that an ethical and moral line has been crossed, even if the student is legally an adult.
James Hooker was placed on paid administrative leave Feb. 3 by Modesto City Schools and resigned Feb. 22, he said Tuesday. Hooker taught business and computer classes, and he was an adviser to three active campus clubs.
"In making our choice, we've hurt a lot of people," Hooker acknowledged. "We keep asking ourselves, 'Do we make everyone else happy or do we follow our hearts?' "
Hooker and Enochs senior Jordan Powers said Tuesday in an interview at The Bee that they are making a life for themselves "day by day." Powers was in Hooker's virtual business class and an associated club until his suspension. They said they met when she was a freshman.
Tammie Powers, Jordan's mother, said she believes Hooker pursued her daughter. She said her daughter's grades fell this year, and Jordan had panic attacks.
"I believe it was the stress of the lie," Tammie Powers said. She said her daughter was "always compliant," kept her room tidy at their Waterford home and minded her curfew. No R-rated movies until she was of age. No lone trips to the mall or the movies.
"I was really, really careful. I wanted her to be safe," she said.
"In hindsight, in retrospect, I should have looked at things differently," Powers said.
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