Educator-student relationships a major problem in Texas
HOUSTON (FOX 26) - An investigation is underway into a former Willowridge High School employee who allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with a student. The worker has resigned after a Fort Bend Independent School District Police officer caught the employee in the Hall Stadium parking lot with a female high school student from another district.
The amount of educators investigated for having an inappropriate relationship with a student has increased each year since 2009 when the Texas Education Agency began keeping a tally, according to the agency. There were 222 cases in the 2015-2016 school year. This school year is starting off with 23 employees allegedly violating students throughout the state in the month of September alone.
"There is no tolerance," explains Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. He says in the next legislative session, the issue of educators having inappropriate relationships with children and what can be done about it will be addressed. "There's zero tolerance for a teacher having an inappropriate relationship with a student.”
"We have six million students in Texas, eight-five hundred schools and about 340,000 teachers," adds Lt. Gov. Patrick. "We can never get it to never happening but we need to be sure it seldom happens.”
Fort Bend ISD sent a letter to parents of students warning that a district police officer "discovered a Willowridge High School staff member (in the Hall Stadium parking lot) in a vehicle with a female high school student from another school district."
Lt. Gov. Patrick says that too often, school employees accused of harming children are simply allowed to resign and move on to a new district.
"And this is what is disturbing is this idea of passing the trash where superintendents are supposed to report to the state these types of situations so the state is aware so another school district doesn't hire that teacher," says Patrick. "That is absolutely not acceptable and superintendents if they pass the trash, which means they're putting kids at risk, we're going to have a pretty significant penalty on them which we don't have today."
The former employee in the Willowridge case may have resigned, but the investigation is continuing to determine if a crime was committed and the school's principal says additional action may be taken.