Even in this political culture, cracking down on improper student-teacher relationships is something we should all agree on.
And it’s not just ferreting out the offenders and charging them with a crime, it’s also zeroing in on the an unsavory practice of “passing the trash,” in which administrators let offending educators resign and don’t report their crimes.
Superintendents are required by state law to report these crimes to the State Board for Educator Certification, but many don’t and only a handful ever get sanctioned, says a WFAA report.
Both Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott have made stopping this sickening practice a priority this session.
“Texas reportedly leads the nation in teacher-student sexual assaults,” Abbott said Jan. 31 in his State of the State address. “We are the ones with the duty to do something about it … I want legislation that imposes real consequences for those teachers. We must also penalize administrators who turn a blind eye to such abuse.”
Patrick echoed the sentiment, saying the state needs to establish appropriate penalties to administrators guilty of “passing the trash.”
Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, has filed SB 7 this session, and its “appropriate penalties” include jail time.
The changes would create criminal ramifications for administrators who turn a blind eye to an educator’s misconduct. Principals have seven days to report an incident to a superintendent or director, who in turn has seven days to notify the State Board for Educator Certification.
If they do not comply, these administrators can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor — with a fine up to $4,000 and/or one year in jail.
If the incident goes to court and it can be proven that these administrators tried to conceal the incident, they could be convicted of a state jail felony. That’s punishable by up to two years in jail, but not less than 180 days, and a possible $10,000 fine.
That approaches the problem in a “sledgehammer vs. walnut” kind of way, but it would be effective.
It might even be considered appropriate.
“Passing the trash” is a vile practice and cannot be allowed to continue. Student safety comes first.