Texas on pace to set record for investigations into relationships between students and teachers

Updated: Jun. 6, 2016 at 10:43 PM CDT
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Source: TEA
Source: TEA
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - With three months left in the fiscal year, the Texas Education Agency has produced numbers showing the amount of investigations into student-teacher relationships is on pace to set a record.

Numbers given to KTRE show there have been 162 investigations so far. That covers Sept. 1, 2015- May 31, 2016. The numbers for the previous six years are as follows:

  • FY 09-10: 141
  • FY 10-11: 152
  • FY 11-12: 156
  • FY 12-13: 163
  • FY 13-14: 179

According to TEA Information Specialist Lauren Callahan, the reports are started by either a teacher being arrested or by a superintendent filing a "249" report. Superintendents are required to report these incidents no more than seven days after they are notified. Callahan said sanctions can range anywhere from permanent revocation of the educator’s certification to reprimand.

"That number seems extremely high," said Huntington ISD Superintendent David Flowers. "It is just a shocking number."

Flowers believes there is a main contributing factor.

"There is no doubt, I believe social media brought it to the forefront," Flowers said. "It has made it happen when it might not have used to."

Child advocate Ashley Cook said she agrees that social media is something that needs to be looked at.

"My children are the first generation to be raised with their life completely in the internet world," Cook said. "Don't stress about trying to keep up with technology but focus on educating your child on what is and is not appropriate."

Cook said it should also be communicated to teachers what is appropriate.

"Any adult that is of sound mind should know what is right and wrong," Cook said. "The only communication that should take place is in a professional manner when it deals with class."

Flowers said he could see state legislatures getting involved during the next session. He said we might see some sort of law come out of it for a mandatory training. Flowers already requires his teachers to go through a training.

"At the beginning of the year, our school attorney came and spent a three-hour session with our teachers and social media was the topic," Flowers said.

Flowers believes people will not be able to ever eliminate communication between teachers and students. His solution is to make sure the boundaries are clearly stated.

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