The Source: Dramatic Increase Of Improper Student-Teacher Relationships In Texas
The rise of social media and constant communication is a big part of the problem -that's according to Doug Phillips director of investigation for the TEA.
“It’s my view that electronic media – social media – being able to text – everybody has their own phone – I think that’s contributing to the growth in a substantial way.”
The TEA opened investigations into the activities of 222 teachers in the last fiscal year. Phillips said many involve sexual contact. But he says that contact might have been prevented – if investigators could have acted sooner.
“We know that educators are having multiple texting situations with a student – we see that those texts are being exchanged at all hours of the day and the night – but we have no idea what the content is. Nobody will tell us what the content is.”
Phillips says the TEA Investigation unit is hampered in pursuing educators who sexually victimize students. He says school district reporting requirements are too lax and many times a school district tries to cover up inappropriate relationships.
“We’re meeting some road blocks in getting cooperation from some of the school districts.”
If the protection of youth isn't incentive enough, there have been large civil awards to victims who successfully made the case that the district didn't do enough. South San Antonio ISD recently had a jury award $4.5 million to a former student. Ric Garcia continues the lawsuit which was appealed to the Fifth Circuit court of Appeals.
"It takes it toll not only on the victim but also on the educator - like the one in Harlingen ISD - the educator committed suicide, Garcia says. It also has an effect on the district. Hopefully it is a positive one."
- Doug Phillips, Director of Educator Investigations for the Texas Education Agency
- Ric Garcia, partner at Garcia & Ochoa Law Firm.