After the Texas Education Agency (TEA) opened a record 222 investigations into inappropriate student-teacher relationships during the 2015-16 fiscal year, the San Antonio Express-News reported on April 17 that the TEA has already opened 159 cases so far in the 2016-17 school year. The Austin American-Statesman found a total of 893 cases were opened from 2011 to 2016.
The number of investigations opened has increased each month so far in 2017. According to the Express-News, there were 19 opened in January, followed by 23 opened in February, and 39 in March.
The revelations about the number of investigations into improper relationships between educators and students comes as lawmakers consider a number of new bills relating to these relationships during the 85th Texas Legislative Session. Senate Bill 7 would allow a teacher to be charged with improper relationship with a student regardless of where the student attends school, and a teacher’s teaching license would be automatically revoked if he or she must register as a sex offender or receives a deferred adjudication of guilt. House Bill 218 would criminalize failure to report inappropriate relationships to the State Board for Educator Certification, among other measures.
Improper Educator-Student Relationship Attorney in Houston, TX
It is important to remember that investigations do not always result in criminal charges. The Statesman noted that only 308 of the 686 teachers who lost teaching licenses following allegations of impropriety with students between January 2010 and December 2016 were charged with crimes.
The increase in investigations into alleged improper relationships is not necessarily evidence of more inappropriate relationships. Many improper relationship between an educator and student investigations are the result of overprotective parents who become concerned with their children communicating with teachers through various social media platforms.
Improper relationship between educator and student is a second-degree felony offense in Texas, meaning a conviction is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Even without criminal charges being filed, many educators can have their licenses revoked.
If you are a teacher in Texas who might be under investigation for allegedly having an improper relationship with a student, it is in your best interest to seek legal representation before making any kind of statement. Even things said during administrative hearings can have profound consequences in criminal cases.
Matt Horak is an experienced Board Certified criminal defense lawyer in Houston who represents individuals accused of sex crimes all over Harris County. He can fight to help you achieve the most favorable outcome to your case, including possibly having the criminal charges reduced or dismissed.