The mother of a student at Five Bridges Junior High School in Hubley, N.S., is upset with the way she learned of an alleged sex-related offence at the school involving a teacher.

Heather Coholan says she discovered over Facebook that 36-year-old Sarah Allt Harnish was charged with sexual assault and sexual interference involving a student.

"I hadn't heard anything prior to that,” said Coholan. “It's very disconcerting to hear that about a school where your child goes every day, where you think they're safe."

Officers say they were notified of inappropriate contact with the student on Feb. 5.

Police declined to provide the age or gender of the young person involved, but say the student attends Five Bridges Junior High School where the accused teaches.

Harnish will appear in Halifax provincial court on May 3 to face the charges.

Coholan says she would have liked to have received some sort of notice from the school first.

"I just didn't like the way I found out about it,” she said. “I would have liked to had a warning about it." 

In an email to CTV News, a spokesperson for the school board says, "The safety of our students is of top priority for the Halifax Regional School Board and these charges are deeply troubling. The employee in question is currently on leave."

The president of the Halifax United Soccer Club confirms Harnish coached and served on the board for the organization, but voluntarily stepped down from both positions, effective immediately.

"The charges brought against Ms. Allt Harnish relate to her position as a teacher at Five Bridges Junior High and do not involve HCU and our players," said Halifax County United Soccer Club in a statement. "However, given the nature of the charges, effective immediately, Ms. Allt Harnish has stepped down from her coaching and Board responsibilities with HCU."

Those who work with young people that have been victimized say the impact can be devastating and could last a lifetime without counselling.

"What's really helpful for people who have been sexually victimized is that they're believed and their supported," said Jackie Stevens of the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre. “Whenever there is a situation that involves someone in a position of trust and authority, I think that it has multiple impacts on the person who is victimized."

Harnish has been released on conditions including no contact with the victim or other persons under the age of 16, and she is to remain away from schools and other places frequented by children.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Suzette Belliveau and The Canadian Press.