We are seeing a disturbing trend in Texas schools. The Texas Education Agency anticipates a new high in improper student-teacher relationship investigations for the school year. This, as we're learning more about a case involving a Hutto football coach and a 16-year-old.
On Monday morning, former Westlake High School teacher Haeli Wey made an appearance in a Travis County courtroom. The 28-year-old is charged with having improper relations with two 17-year-old students.
As she waits to stand trial for her alleged actions, more teachers continue to enter the court system for the same crime.
Take the Houston-area teacher who became pregnant after having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old.
On Friday Hutto High School Assistant Football coach Jake Fenske was booked into jail for a sexual relationship involving a 16-year-old. Court documents show he admitted to committing the acts inside his classroom among other places.
"We've seen an increase over the past few years,” said TEA Spokesperson Lauren Callahan.
Spokesperson Lauren Callahan says the Texas Education Agency investigated 188 improper relationships last year.
With the current case number at 162, the state is once again on track to finish higher than the previous year.
"We want to make sure they're appropriately sanctioned and if they need to come out of the classroom forever then certainly we want to make sure that happens as quickly as possible,” said Callahan.
Part of that is meeting with legislators to enhance the agency's authority.
"Last session we were fighting for subpoena power which we got because there were instances in which we were getting documentation the districts are supposed to provide for us, we were getting data that was blacked out and we were like we can't protect this student when we don't know who this student is or what this educator has done,” said Callahan.
This session the agency wants toughen social media policies between teacher and student. Right now, it is up to the individual district to adopt suggestions.
"My recommendation is anytime you have to make contact with students it's a group message so that everyone gets the same message,” said Mendez.
AISD Police Chief Eric Mendez is taking an active role in training teachers before each school year.
"If we stay consistent in our training and constant every year than the teachers understand what the outcomes are,” said Mendez.
While more strict social media policies may bring the numbers down, the TEA will also recommend legislators allow prosecution if a relationship exists between a teacher and student in different districts. Right now, only those in the same district are viewed as improper relationship. That may ultimately increase the caseload.
"The safety and security of our students is our foremost concern,” said Callahan.