Bill aims to deter inappropriate student-teacher relationships

Bill addresses student-teacher relationships

CENTRAL TEXAS - Texas State Representative Tony Dale hopes House Bill 218 will deter inappropriate student-teacher relationships. Dale filed the bill Monday after months of preparation. Dale spoke to KVUE Monday stating students deserve better.

“What all of us expect, those of us that are parents, you send your kids to school and it's a safe environment, they're going to go there to learn, and not have the worries and concerns of an unsafe environment,” Dale said.

Dale provided several key factors of HB 218. They're listed below:

  • HB 218 expands criminal liability for teacher-student relationships to include educators who target students in other schools or other school districts.  It is currently an offense if an educator has an inappropriate relationship with a student within their district. While relationships with any minor are supposed to be reported, it is not an offense unless both parties are working or teaching in the same district.
  • HB 218 expands culpability to include principals as well as, superintendents and directors.  Currently, only superintendents and directors have a duty to report under the law.
  • HB 218 criminalizes a failure to report inappropriate relationships to the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC).  Under current law, there is no criminal penalty for failing to report.
  • HB 218 requires the revocation of an educator’s certificate if they are designated as a registered sex offender, regardless of whether they were adjudicated or convicted.
  • HB 218 requires school districts to adopt continuing education for teachers about appropriate educator-student relationships, boundaries, and communications.
  • HB 218 closes a current loophole allowing teachers involved in inappropriate relationships to resign and have the details placed in a campus file, rather than a personnel file. 
  • HB 218 grants authority to the SBEC to revoke or suspend the certification of any person that assists a school employee, contractor or agent in obtaining a new job if the individual knew or should have known that the agent engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a student.
  • HB 218 expands subpoena power to include testimony related to the investigation, as well as documents related the alleged incident of misconduct.
  • HB 218 requires school districts to produce investigation reports to the State Board of Educator Certification.  The commissioner of the SBEC will be able to authorize special accreditation investigations when a school district fails to produce to the agency for any reason evidence or an investigation report requested by the agency relating to an educator who is under investigation by the SBEC.
  • HB 218 requires that districts adopt and enforce policies regarding teacher-student electronic communications.
  • HB 218 increases penalties and close loopholes that allow educators who engage in inappropriate relationships to resign and obtain employment in another district.

The Texas Education Agency documented 222 cases of inappropriate relationships with a student in Texas during the 2015-16 fiscal year. Right now, the agency is investigating 35 new cases.

(© 2016 KVUE)


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