Researchers create database highlighting educator discipline after improper relationship accusations

SAN ANTONIO – Two researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio are creating a database highlighting educator discipline after they are accused of improper relationships.

The researchers hope to get a deeper understanding of the epidemic of these allegations in the state of Texas.

"There are 222 kids from last year and their families whose lives have been turned upside down," said Dr. David Thompson, a professor of educational leadership at UTSA.

The Texas Education Agency opened 222 investigations in the fiscal year 2015-2016 alone that involved inappropriate relationships between educators and students.

"I think that part of the increase in the number of investigations that are open, that have been open over the past eight years, are probably due to increased reporting requirements," Thompson said. 

Thompson has sifted through thousands of public records documenting how educators have been disciplined.

"There just hasn't been very much research done on this phenomenon. So we are hoping to fill that void as it relates to Texas," Thompson said. 

Thompson’s research team is working to change that by creating an online database with every report.

"We’re going to overlay against it the educator and employment and certification data so that we can start systematically describing what educator sexual misconduct has looked like over the past 18 to 20 years in the state of Texas," Thompson said.

"We are including — and this is what makes us a little bit different than other outlets as well — we are including cases in which they were convicted or found guilty of sexual misconduct with students and all sexual crimes," said Catherine Robert, assistant professor designate.

Robert is also working on the database.

"The most useful aspect of our final database will include the number of times they moved from job to job. So far, what we found regarding ages of educators, ethnicity, gender is that educator misconduct does not discriminate.  There's educators of all ages," Robert said.

Thompson said the project will take time.

"We believe that good policy is based on good data, and so we really believe that we are the first or only groups in  Texas that have taken this project on to really describe and explain, and hopefully predict, incidents of educators’ improper relationships with students," Thompson said.

Thompson hopes to finish the database in about six months. Researchers will add new information to the database annually.

The Texas Education Agency tracks the number of cases opened by fiscal year, which runs from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31.

Here is data for cases opened involving an inappropriate relationship with a student or minor for the past seven fiscal years, including the current fiscal year-to-date:

FY 09-10: 141
FY 10-11: 152
FY 11-12: 156
FY 12-13: 163
FY 13-14: 179
FY 14-15: 188
FY 15-16: 222
FY 16-17 (9/1/16 - 4/30/17): 191


Don't miss a thing. Get email alerts from KSAT 12 today.
Get alerted to news events as they happen or sign up for a scheduled news headline email that is delivered right to your inbox. Breaking news, severe weather, daily forecasts, entertainment news, all of the day’s important events to keep you up to date wherever you are.

Sign up today. It's Free.

About the Author:

Tiffany Huertas is a reporter for KSAT 12 known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.