House Approves Bill on Inappropriate Student-Teacher Relationships

WICHITA FALLS - As we reach the end of the Texas Legislative session, the House and Senate are moving closer to a measure they hope will reduce the spiraling number of cases of teachers having romantic or sexual relationships with their students.

Monday, the House approved Senate Bill 7, which would penalize superintendents and principals who try to purposely cover up those incidents.

Principals and superintendents who fail to report such crimes could face a state jail felony and a fine of up to $10,000. But one superintendent and resident we spoke today say, how did it even get this far?

From 2015 to 2016, the Texas Education Agency reported more than 200 cases of alleged inappropriate student teacher  relationships.

In Texoma alone in 2016, five teachers were investigated for having inappropriate relationships with students with another case reported in January this year.

Monday, the House passed Senate Bill 7, which would penalize principals and superintendents who purposely cover up incidents of teachers having sexual or romantic relationships with students.

"I guess make them wake up and start acting like you're supposed to, be responsible adults," Cindy Edwards, a Wichita Falls resident. "I don't know why they hold back. I don't understand it, but maybe this will give them and incentive to follow through with what they know they're supposed to do."

Archer City ISD Superintendent C.D. Knobloch said they already have policies in place for reporting those incidents.

"You have certain number of days to get that reported," he said. "And when you're made aware of it, you take action, you investigate, and you give your report to TEA and report it to local authority."

Knobloch said he hopes a bill like this will put an end to inappropriate student teacher relationships.

"I would hope that it would, I would hope that they're no administrators out there covering anything up."

The bill would also allow a convicted teacher's family  to collect the teachers' a full pension, if a judge allows. And the bill also requires teacher preparation programs  on proper relationships and boundaries with students.

The bill passed out of the Senate in early March. The house must still take a final vote before a final bill can be sent to the to the Governor.

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