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What Is Texas Doing To Curb Improper Student-Teacher Relationships?

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Texas has made an effort to crack down on teachers and coaches who have sex and other inappropriate relationships with their students. Is it enough? 

An investigative report from the Austin-American Statesman found that after being investigated for improper relationships with a student, hundreds of Texas primary and secondary teachers lost or surrendered their teaching licenses, but more than half were never criminally charged.

How does the TEA investigate cases of alleged misconduct? What happens to an educator found to have an inappropriate relationship with a student?

So far in 2018, the Texas Education Agency has looked into 417 cases of an improper relationship between a student and an educator. In comparison, the agency conducted 222 investigations in 2016 and 302 in the 2017 fiscal year. 

Doug Phillips, director of educator investigations for the TEA, says the rise in cases could be part of a disturbing trend, but the increasing number of reports may also be spurred by the penalties for breaking a new state law.

Last year, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill that could subject school superintendents and principals to criminal charges if they fail to report misconduct to the State Board for Educator Certification.  

What were the previous reporting requirements for schools and how does the new law change things?

Why are some school officials silent on issues of sexual misconduct on campus? Are the implications behind student-teacher relationships different for school-aged children and college students?

As technology changes the potential for communication and educational opportunities, how should students and teachers maintain appropriate boundaries online and in person? What can be done on the local level to prevent more cases of misconduct?


"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet at @TPRSource.

Jan Ross Piedad Sakian is TPR’s News Operations Producer. In this role, she develops strategy on collaborative and digital initiatives for the station. Since 2016, Jan Ross has served in a coordinating capacity for TPR’s state and national partners, including The Texas Newsroom.
David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi