NBC News | by Antonio Planas | June 2, 2023
A Texas school superintendent sent lewd photos to an undercover officer posing online as a 15-year-old girl he planned to meet with, authorities said.
Michael Keith Stevens, 47, superintendent of the Itasca Independent School District, was arrested Thursday and accused of online solicitation of a minor, according to court records.
Itasca Independent School District is about 55 miles south of Dallas.
Stevens was detained at the Harris County jail Friday afternoon. Online records indicate his bond was set at $100,000.
It was not immediately clear if he had retained an attorney. Stevens’ relatives could not immediately be reached for comment.
Stevens was one of seven people arrested after an undercover operation with more than a dozen local law enforcement agencies. Officers posed as teens ages 13, 14 and 15 and communicated online, Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen said in a video statement posted on Facebook.
Rosen said the school administrator was allegedly communicating with a teen he believed was from Houston.
“He sent pictures of his private parts and asked for nude videos and images in return,” The constable said. “He told the undercover investigator he was at work and some of his disturbing photos appear to be taken in his office. And during the conversation, he was planning a trip to Houston to engage in sex acts.”
“Stevens has been around children his entire work life. He has been a coach, a principal and an assistant principal in various towns across north Texas. He is married with no children,” Rosen added.
No one with the Itasca schools could be reached for comment Friday.
A statement from the school district on its Facebook page said: “On June 1, 2023, the District was contacted by a detective with the Harris County Sheriff’s Department. According to the detective, Superintendent Michael Stevens was taken into custody. Until more facts are confirmed, no further information can be shared. The Board of Trustees will be convening a meeting to review this matter and take appropriate action.”
The Itasca district posted a notification for a special meeting on Monday.
NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported Stevens was named superintendent in 2022. Before moving to Hill County, Stevens worked in several Texas districts.
In his video statement, Rosen encouraged parents to be vigilant about monitoring their children’s activity online.
“These cases should be a wake-up call for parents,” he said. “You must know what your children are doing online. There are apps out there, even on your cellphone, that can help you keep track.”