The report against a School of the Osage teacher initiated with the school.

The district issued a statement Friday morning regarding the charges against teacher Mark Edwards, saying that the school received a report of suspicious behavior involving Edwards and made a hotline report to the Missouri Children’s Division. The district also questioned Edwards and immediately placed him on administrative leave and notified local law enforcement.

As a result of the district’s administrative investigation and collaboration with local law enforcement, the 44-year-old Eldon man was ultimately charged on two counts, statutory sodomy of a person less than 14 years old and sexual contact with a student.

Arrested April 18, Edwards is being held in the Miller County jail on a $300,000 bond after allegedly admitting to Miller County Sheriff’s investigators that he had inappropriate contact with students.

Children involved were reportedly questioned by a forensic interviewer in the course of the investigation. The charges stem from incidents between April 9 and April 17.

According to court documents, one incident took place in Miller County on a bus, a second offense allegedly took place during a bus ride on a field trip in Cole County. Edwards was observed on a video of one of the trips sitting next to the student, using a coat to cover the victim’s lap.

The statement from the School of the Osage adds, “As always, the safety and security of all students is paramount to the district. Through extensive background checks beyond state requirements and consistent, ongoing staff training we are focused on keeping our kids safe and secure. When an employee breaks our trust, we do not hesitate to respond swiftly, effectively, and to the full extent of the law. In addition, we are thankful for our partnership with local law enforcement and child advocacy agencies. Please contact your school administrator if you have any information that may assist us in this, or any other, ongoing investigation.”