AUSTIN, Texas - When Governor Greg Abbott signed SB7 Thursday morning, It was a strong message about improper student teacher relationships in Texas.
"We are saying no more. Are we going to allow that to happen?” said Gov. Abbott.
The legislation places harsher penalties on teachers who are caught. SB7 also cracks down on local school administrators who try to keep incidents from going public.
"It was a big moment; I actually started to smile because I thought about all the hard work we'd put in over the last two years to actually bring this to policy resolution,” said Representative Tony Dale.
The Cedar Park Republican carried the companion bill on the House side.
"People were being allowed to resign and go from one school district to another and there were people, who were not previously required to report, but will now have to if they think these kinds of things are going on. And this whole concept of letting people move from place to place, it should end now with this law,” said Representative Dale.
This legislation was motivated, in part, by state school officials who became frustrated with superintendent. Several local School District officials were not complying with the laws already on the books. The anticipation that SB7 would eventually become law may be responsible for a recent uptick in the number of cases being reported.
So far since the school year began in September TEA has opened 191 cases of improper teacher-student relationships. That number is a substantial increase to what was reported during the same time period in 2016 (142 cases) and 2015 (116 cases).
Connie LeBeauf, who was on a field trip to the capitol Thursday with her daughters' class- told FOX7 anything that increases accountability, is welcomed.
"Absolutely as a parent, that’s one of my chief concerns, that one of my kids is away from me for 7 and a half or 8 hours a day that she is safe,” said LeBeauf.
The new law takes effect in September.