Teachers unions in Texas are expressing concerns about a bill pending in the state legislature which would force teachers to self-report allegations of improper relationships between themselves and students when applying for new jobs at public schools.
The bill, House Bill 218, was introduced by Tony Dale, a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives.
In a presentation to the House Educator Quality Subcommittee this week, Dale said the goal of the bill is to stem what he describes as a rising tide of instances of sexual relations between public school teachers and their underage students.
Education employee advocacy groups have reacted with alarm, reports the Austin American-Statesman.
Their complaint is that teachers would have to self-report allegations of impropriety even if the allegations are false.
“Those falsely accused teachers could face some serious harm to their employment prospects,” Mark Wiggins, a lobbyist with the Association of Texas Professional Educators, told the Statesman.
The Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers and the Texas State Teachers Association have expressed similar concerns about House Bill 218.
Dale’s bill is designed to allow teachers to indicate whether the allegations against them are true or false after explaining the allegations. However, failure to report allegations could become grounds for termination.
The fear among teachers, obviously, is that self-reported allegations will become a good a reason not to hire a teacher in the first place.
In his presentation to the Texas House subcommittee, Dale explained that his goal is to prevent teachers from discreetly changing jobs after having an improper sexual relationship with a student.
Dale cited six such cases in central Texas and an extensive review of impropriety conducted earlier this year by the Statesman.
That review concluded that school district officials — and, obviously, the teachers themselves — across Texas sweep affairs between teachers and students under the rug.
In addition to requiring that teachers report allegations against themselves, Dale’s bill would also allow force school districts to inform parents when their child is the subject of teacher-sex allegations, make it a crime for teachers to engage in sexual activity with students who attend other schools and require schools to create policies concerning electronic communications between teachers and students.
The bill would also revoke the teaching licenses of teachers who end up on sex offender registries and also revoke the licenses of school administrators who assist teachers with finding other jobs once they have engaged in sexual relations with students.
“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, according to the Statesman.
The Statesman’s review of teacher-sex incidents found 686 teachers who lost their teaching licenses because of allegations of such incidents in the Lone Star State between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2016. (RELATED: Teacher Traumatized 13-Year-Old Male Student With Months Of Sex ‘On Almost A Daily Basis,’ Cops Say)
Over half of the 686 teachers were not ultimately charged with any crime.
The analysis is inconclusive concerning how many of the 686 teachers actually engaged in sexual relationships with students.
Just over 600 of the 686 teachers spent zero days in jail.