SAN ANTONIO – More than 130 investigations into inappropriate teacher-student relationships have been opened since Sept. 1, according to the Texas Education Agency.
TEA spokeswoman Lauren Callahan said 136 investigations have been opened during the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which began Sept. 1, and 46 of those cases were opened in January alone.
The number could be higher than 136, as the data provided only accounted for investigations opened through Jan. 31.
Improper educator-student relationship investigations opened during past fiscal years:
- 2009-2010: 141 investigations
- 2010-2011: 152 investigations
- 2011-2012: 156 investigations
- 2012-2013: 163 investigations
- 2013-2014: 179 investigations
- 2014-2015: 188 investigations
- 2015-2016: 222 investigations
- 2016-2017: 302 investigations
The TEA has a self-reporting system. Principals and superintendents must report suspected teacher-student relationships within 7 days of the incident.
While it used to be that only superintendents were required to report such incidents, Senate Bill 7, which passed in Sept. 2017, states that principals must report inappropriate student-teacher relationships or face a state jail felony or a fine of up to $10,000.
The district is also expected to report any arrests, terminations or resignations to the TEA.
Callahan said the TEA has had an issue with educators under investigation "jumping districts." As a result, the TEA flags the educator's "virtual certificate" after an investigation is opened.
Callahan said that although a flag may be on the teacher's virtual certificate when an investigation is opened, all hires are a local decision and districts are expected to do their due diligence and check the educator's virtual certificate.