OMAHA, Neb. – Although she's been fired by her school board, it could take months before the Nebraska teacher accused of fleeing to Mexico with a 13-year-old student loses her teaching license.
Without public comment, the Lexington School Board voted 6-0 Monday night to terminate the contract of Kelsey Peterson, 25, a sixth-grade teacher.
Peterson faces a federal charge of crossing state lines to have sex with a minor. She also has been charged in Dawson County with felony counts of kidnapping and child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Authorities alleged that Peterson fled Lexington with the boy, a former student of hers, on Oct. 26. They were found in a mall parking lot in the border town of Mexicali, Mexico, on Nov. 2.
Peterson had been put on administrative leave late last month after allegations surfaced that she was having an inappropriate relationship with the student. He has since said they had sex twice.
The Nebraska Department of Education investigates allegations against teachers after a complaint has been filed. The department generally expects to complete investigations within 90 days, said its general counsel, Brian Halstead.
But, he said Tuesday, "depending on the type of the complaint, the allegations, the number of potential witnesses, if it's involved in criminal prosecutions, whatever, it can take a number of days or months."
The Lexington superintendent did not immediately respond to a message left Tuesday morning.
The district first must fill out state forms and include what Halstead called "a precise ropped because the boy went with her willingly and that the boy shares more responsibility for their relationship and flight than authorities allege.
"I see true victims every day," he added. "This young man is no victim."
Davis also suggested without elaboration that the boy may actually be 16 or older, too old for a state statutory rape count to apply.
A prosecutor and a relative of the boy rejected Davis' assertions.
The Dawson County prosecutor, Elizabeth Waterman, said she's certain the boy is 13 because she's seen the boy's birth certificate.
His aunt in Lexington said he'll be 14 in January.
The boy remains in Mexico because of his immigration status but might be able to return to Nebraska, at least temporarily, if he is granted a "U" visa. The visas are used to encourage illegal immigrants to report crimes against them.