AUSTIN, Texas – Texas teachers unions are expressing “concerns” about a bill designed to crack down on the epidemic of educators sexually abusing students.
State Rep. Tony Dale introduced House Bill 218 last year, but lawmakers did not take up the issue until the House Committee on Public Education heard testimony last week.
The bill would require teachers who’ve faced accusations of inappropriate relationships with students to disclose the accusations, and provide an explanation. It also tasks schools with notifying parents of accusations of inappropriate activity between their child and a teacher, automatically revokes teaching licenses for sex offenders, requires principals to report employees who cross the line with kids, and mandates that school districts set clear policies for electronic communication between teachers and students.
At a House Educator Quality Subcommittee hearing last week, the state’s teachers unions pushed back against the measure.
The Austin Statesman reports:
Although they’ve supported similar legislation and most of the components in Dale’s bill, teacher groups said Monday that they were hesitant to fully back HB 218 because it would require job applicants to disclose accusations of improprieties, even if they were false.
“Those falsely accused teachers could face some serious harm to their employment prospects,” said Mark Wiggins, lobbyist with the Association of Texas Professional Educators.
EAGnews, the Statesman, the Blaze and numerous other news outlets have detailed repeated instances of sexual predator teachers who work with their union to negotiate agreements with school officials to quietly resign amid accusations of sex with students. Those agreements often come with a letter of recommendation that ensures a seamless transfer to a different district, where they repeat their behavior.
It’s a practice known as “passing the trash” and it’s haunted the teaching profession for decades.
“It’s time that we fully address this issue and make sure that educators who have inappropriate relationships with students are not allowed to teach again,” Dale said at the subcommittee hearing.
In February, the Statesman conducted an analysis of figures from the Texas Education Agency, the state agency that investigates teacher misconduct, and the results are eye-opening.
The Statesman’s analysis of the 686 teachers who lost or surrendered their licenses while under investigation after accusations of improper relationship with a student, between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2016, found:
53 percent were never charged with a crime related to misconduct with a student.
40 percent were charged and convicted or given a deferred sentence. Of those, 160 teachers were given deferred adjudication, similar to probation. Only 84 teachers were sentenced to prison or jail time.
27 teachers had charges dismissed or weren’t indicted.
The above cases don’t include an additional 441 teachers who, during the same time period, lost their licenses after allegations of sexual misconduct, a different category than improper relationship with a student. The Statesman didn’t analyze those cases because some of them involved alleged improprieties with adults or children not enrolled in a teacher’s school district.