Concerns about the relationship between a teenager and her maths teacher were already being investigated before the pair apparently eloped together to France, the local authority has confirmed.
The parents of 15-year-old Megan Stammers have made an emotional appeal for her to get in contact with them, after she caught a ferry to the continent last week with 30-year-old Jeremy Forrest. It has now emerged that concerns were expressed to another teacher about their relationship, following a school trip to Los Angeles in February.
A friend from Bishop Bell Church of England School in Eastbourne, East Sussex, said that another classmate had raised the issue after seeing the pair holding hands together on the return flight.
The 15-year-old friend told the Daily Mail: "They would always text each other. He would send her messages saying things like 'I miss you' and 'I can't wait to hug you'. We are really angry the school did not do enough to protect Megan. And now no one knows where she is or if she's coming back.
"I don't know how it all started with Mr Forrest but to begin with she was really excited about it. She would tweet about being in love and show us his texts. But after it was reported she stopped and then deleted her Twitter account. She never spoke about it after that and she didn't tell any of us that she was leaving. She probably knew we would stop her."
An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: "Because the investigations are ongoing we are not going to comment in detail, however the school and the county council had been addressing and investigating concerns that had been raised, in line with procedure, when this happened. That investigation will continue and we will decide what action to take."
A senior police officer has also disclosed that a message was sent to one of Megan's friends, saying that she was in France, but did not come from her phone.
Megan's disappearance came last Thursday when she asked her mother whether she could stay overnight at a friend's house. Her mother said that she agreed, gave her dinner money for school the following day - and Megan left. But the following morning her mother received a text message from her school, where Forrest teaches, saying she had failed to attend class.
Her family said that Megan had been receiving extra-curricular maths lessons since before the summer. But they did not suspect any relationship between her and Forrest, a married amateur musician, who lives in Ringmer, near Lewes.
Megan's father, Martin Stammers, said he was "aware" of Mr Forrest but refused to go into further detail, saying: "It's about Megan and getting Megan back."