JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A Duval County school counselor accused of sexually assaulting a child is now one step closer to losing his job.

The school board announced Tuesday night what may just be the first round of punishment.

Robert Cowan was arrested in August on two capital felonies, including forcing a child to perform a sex act.

On Tuesday night, the Duval County school district leveled its punishment for the man who was most recently slated to be a guidance counselor at Fort Caroline Middle School and had served as vice principal at Arlington Middle School.

"He will be suspended without pay pending a hearing if he asks for one," said Vicki Reynolds, the head of human resources for the district.

Reynolds said it has taken more than a month for the district to move forward on discipline against Cowan, but that's normal.

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"We recommend termination," she said.

When asked why Cowan hasn't been terminated immediately, Reynolds said, "Well, like every employee, no matter what they do, they have a right to due process."

Cowan's criminal charges are serious. According to detectives, Cowan's alleged victim gave details of a sex act that person was forced to perform.

There is another allegation that's too disturbing to mention.

"If he hadn't been arrested, he would have been removed from the classroom away from children," Reynolds said. "But since he has been arrested and is still there, we just replaced him with another teacher."

Cowan had worked for the Duval and Nassau County school systems since 1993.

"He'd been here for a while," Reynolds said. "He went and worked for another district for a while."

Reynolds added that Cowan never had any disciplinary problems she was aware of.