MENOMONEE FALLS -- Menomonee Falls School District officials are responding -- after a now former employee was charged with sexual assault. The superintendent held a news conference Wednesday morning, December 23rd to discuss former reading specialist April Novak. Novak is accused of sexual contact with a 16-year-old student during school hours in a classroom at Menomonee Falls High School.
30-year-old April Novak of Sussex faces 12 felony counts of sexual assault of a student by school staff. Those charges were filed on December 22nd -- the same day Novak made her initial appearance in court on the charges.
School district officials say the conversations they're now forced to have inside the school are ones that should never be had in a school environment.
"Nothing can prepare a parent or a school for a conversation like this," Menomonee Falls Superintendent Patricia Greco said.
Greco on Wednesday morning said that the safety and well-being of the students is the highest priority for the school district. She also said the district takes this responsibility very seriously and will promptly investigate any concerns regarding student safety.
"Ms. Novak's actions, as detailed in the criminal complaint, do not represent the expectations we hold for our staff, nor are her actions a reflection of the conduct of our other district employees. The behavior described within the criminal complaint violates the trust of the student's family, Ms. Novak's family and the community and the expectations we hold for any educator," Greco said.
The complaint against Novak indicates authorities were asked to meet with school administration on December 15th "regarding an internal investigation the school was conducting."
The detective in this investigation learned on December 11th that a teacher at Menomonee Falls had seen a male student and Novak "embraced with a possible kiss occurring in Novak's classroom."
The complaint indicates Novak and the student had engaged in inappropriate conduct "on the couch in her classroom." The complaint says "all of the sexual contact occurred in Novak's classroom and at no time did it occur outside of school."
When questioned by authorities, Novak explained the inappropriate contact occurred "from approximately mid-October of 2015 through roughly the beginning of December 2015." Novak told authorities that "it was a mutual relationship and indicated they have very strong feelings for each other."
Superintendent Greco said school district officials are focusing right now on putting "all of our energy into supporting the student and his family and to do what we can to support all of the family members impacted."
“This team works hard to do a great job -- so it rocks emotionally all of the members impacted by this. It’s been hard on the administrative team, the staff members. They want to make sure that every day there is that sense of passion and commitment, and positive learning environment. That has to take extra effort to rebuild because of these actions. It’s hard to describe the level of emotion when you’re working with an individual student and a family. Ms. Novak’s behavior broke a significant amount of trust," Greco said.
Cassie Hintz says Novak taught her 16-year-old daughter.
"Once I found out who it was, that's when I was like 'oh my God.' I freaked out," Hintz said.
Hintz says she's shocked to learn of the allegations against Novak.
"She was on point. She made sure my daughter was cooperative, she made sure she was doing her work, and very helpful. I can't believe this is happening," Hintz said.
"I loved Ms. Novak, but after hearing what she did to one of my friends, I was actually quite shocked," Cali Hintz said.
Novak resigned during the Menomonee Falls School District’s investigation.
FOX6 News has learned before she started at Menomonee Falls High School, Novak worked for the Brown Deer School District, and coached basketball. Brown Deer School District officials had no comment on the allegations against Novak.
Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction say Novak's licenses for administrator (which she received in 2013) and for teaching (which she received in 2008) are under investigation.
Novak was seen in a protective vest during her initial court appearance Tuesday. Prosecutors say she has made statements indicating she had been considering crashing her car in an attempt to harm herself.
Bail has been set at $100,000 in this case.
Novak will next be in court on January 4th for her preliminary hearing. Meanwhile, she cannot have unsupervised contact with her own kids because she allegedly threatened to crash her car with the kids inside.
Court documents show Novak's husband filed for legal separation/annulment this week, before Novak was charged.
Counselors are being provided at Menomonee Falls High School for those in need of support in light of this case.