‘It’s just disgusting’: Community members react to arrest of Itasca ISD superintendent for online solicitation of a minor

Michael Stephens was caught sending explicit messages and photos to an undercover investigator that he thought was a 15-year-old Houston girl.
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 5:32 PM CDT
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ITASCA, Texas (KWTX) - UPDATE: The Itasca Independent School District on Monday made the decision to suspend superintendent Michael Stevens after he was arrested and charged in an online child sex solicitation sting in Harris County.

“The Board of Trustees met today to take immediate action to suspend Superintendent Michael Stevens from his role of superintendent of schools,” the board wrote in a statement, “The Board took this action in response to the arrest on Thursday, June 1 of Mr. Stevens.”

The school board announced Stevens will be on paid leave, and the interim superintendent will be Keith Boles. “Mr. Boles previously served in the district in this capacity and is well known and respected by our community,” the district said.

According to the board, so far, it has found no evidence of questionable activity involving Stephens and students at Itasca ISD.

“Our students are safe and will continue to thrive and succeed with the dedicated attention and service brought by our outstanding parents and staff,” the district wrote in a Facebook post.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: The community of Itasca is in shock after the superintendent of Itasca ISD, Michael Stephens, was arrested and charged Thursday with online solicitation of a minor.

According to the TEA’s academic record of Stephens, the 47-year-old has spent years working in education throughout Texas.

“He has been a coach, a principal, and an assistant principal in various towns across north Texas,” said Alan Rosen, a constable in Harris County.

Most recently, Stephens was the superintendent of Itasca ISD in Hill county, which is why community members were shocked to see him arrested at Itasca High School on Thursday, just days after graduation.

“I have a couple cousins who graduated from here not too long ago,” Jimmy Arellano, Jr., who lives next to Itasca High, told KWTX. “One of them here recently, just graduated two days ago. And whenever I heard the situation, it kind of shocked me, because they were going on stage to shake his hand.”

Stephens was caught sending explicit messages and photos to an undercover investigator who Stephens thought was a 15-year-old Houston girl.

He was one of six other men found in the undercover sting.

“You’re a superintendent of a high school, elementary, etc.,” Arellano said. “You’re here to better the education of the students and not play around like that, plain and simple. It’s just disgusting.”

Some of the explicit photos Stephens sent are believed to have even been taken in his office at the school.

One Itasca ISD mother is now concerned for her kids.

“It’s scary, and now you have to question your kids that they’re not touched by them or anything like that,” Tarisha Demmons, the mother of two Itasca ISD students, said.

Other residents remember Stephens more fondly, but question how this could’ve happened.

“He was a good guy, but I just don’t understand why he would do that,” Roddye Matthews, and Itasca resident, said. “Kids are young, they shouldn’t have to go through that.”

According to a Facebook statement from Itasca ISD, “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.“

That special meeting will be taking place on Monday, where the school board will discuss the status of Stephen’s employment.