Scott Ellsworth, 33, pleaded no contest to the charge and waived his right to trial. Douglas County District Court Judge Jack Murphy set sentencing for 9 a.m. Oct. 9.
Ellsworth, then a science teacher, resigned from Southwest last spring after Lawrence Police began investigating him for inappropriate behavior with a ninth-grade student.
Ellsworth could be sentenced from 2 1/2 years to a little more than 11 years in a state prison, depending on his previous record. Ellsworth's attorney, Tom Murray, said his client does not have a prior criminal record. Ellsworth also could be put on probation instead of serving prison time.
Murray, a former school board member, wouldn't comment further about the case.
Douglas County Assistant Dist. Atty. Trent Krug said had the case gone to trial he would have presented evidence that Ellsworth fondled and inappropriately touched a girl between March 1 and May 7. The girl is now 16, he said.
Lawrence Public Schools Supt. Randy Weseman declined to comment on Ellsworth.
Ellsworth had been at Southwest about three years either as a science teacher or as a paraprofessional in the school's technology lab, Weseman said.
School Board member Scott Morgan called the Ellsworth matter a "sad situation." He declined to comment further.
-- Staff writer Mike Belt can be reached at 832-7165.