Friday, September 23, 2016

An Eight-Year High in Improper Teacher-Student Relationships. That's Not Good.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 1:30 PM

A Texas Education Agency report shows an increase in a disturbing trend. - VIA FLICKR USER AMBOO WHO?
  • Via Flickr user amboo who?
  • A Texas Education Agency report shows an increase in a disturbing trend.
Eight is enough.

That’s what the Texas Education Agency and state lawmakers are saying after a recent TEA report shows that improper relationships between Texas teachers and students hit an eight-year high.

According to the Austin-American Statesman, TEA opened 222 of these types of investigations in fiscal year 2016, an 80 percent bump from its 2008 caseload. At the time of writing, the overall total of open cases for alleged misconduct in Texas’ public secondary schools stood at an overflowing 1,110. (Other agencies investigate misconduct cases at universities, colleges, private and religious schools.)

The San Antonio area hasn’t been immune from the problem.

In March, Jared Anderson, an English teacher at Judson High School in Converse, was arrested after allegedly hosting multiple sex parties with teenaged boys at his home. According to the San Antonio Police Department, there was a sign on a door at Anderson’s house that said, “The last one to get naked has to get the first dare.” After Judson High placed Anderson on administrative leave, the school, in a monumental uh-oh, accidentally issued a version of the school’s yearbook that named Anderson as “teacher of the year.”

Doug Phillips, TEA’s director of investigations, told the Statesman that the social media trend of grown adults who somehow think it’s okay to text and chat with underage teens is to blame in many of the cases.

“The truth with teacher misconduct, with all the facts I’ve seen in sociology, is that it will continue to be passed on,” Texas State Senator for District 7 Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) tells the Current by phone. “There’s a term in the industry of passing the trash. We need to be taking out the trash, not passing the trash.”

Bettencourt says that he’ll push for legislation during the 2017 Texas Legislature, scheduled to begin on January 8, that forces teachers to fill out disclosure forms that not only will be scrutinized within the applicant’s school district but also distributed to statewide school districts.

“A big hole in the system is the filling out of the disclosure forms, not just intra-district but also to interstate districts,” says Bettencourt.

TEA is also hoping to procure an additional $400,000 during Texas’ 85th Legislature in order to expand its overburdened investigative team from seven to nine staff members and to hire an administrator for its investigations unit.

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