Posted on 6/4/17

The Texas Education Agency has been dealing with reports of improper educator/student relationships over the past several years. The Agency’s investigation department either reviews “249 Reports,” which are reports filed by school superintendents after a teacher resigns or is fired or it reviews criminal or similar complaints filed against a teacher in the school system.

Recent press releases discussed female teachers providing lap dances for their male students and a teacher becoming impregnated by a 13-year-old. In fact, between 2011 and 2016, the Agency investigated over 1200 reports of improper relationships with a reported 144 teachers getting their teaching licenses revoked.

What is more, theTexas House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would increase the penalties for teachers who engage in this type of behavior. The bill also includes severe penalties against principals and other school officials who do not report these crimes. Negligently not reporting a crime can cost a person his job; knowingly not reporting a crime can lead to a jail sentence.

Criminal Offense

Currently, a teacher who is found guilty of engaging in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student faces up to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Specifically, the statute states that “[a]n employee of a public or private primary or secondary school commits an offense if the employee engages in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with a person who is enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school at which the employee works…holds a certificate or permit issued…students enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school are the primary participants in the activity; and the employee provides education services to those participants.”

The law is applicable even if the relationship was consensual. Moreover, even if the parents of the student agree to the relationship, as was the circumstances in one Texas case, it is still criminal to engage in such a relationship.

Those accused of such a crime are in a difficult spot. The penalties are severe, including a lengthy prison sentence. Because these cases tend to be high profile, the prosecutor tends to be zealous in their efforts to put the accused offender behind bars. This causes much difficulty and shame for the accused and accused’s family. Teachers are often the recipients of state benefits that include access to a pension fund. Upon conviction and loss of license, the teacher and his or her family would lose the rights to that pension.


Note that theTexas Criminal Code provides two exceptions to the law wherein an educator would not be liable under the statute:

  • The educator and the student were married at the time of the offense; and

  • The educator was less than three years older than the student and the relationship started before the educator’s employment began at the relevant school.

If you have been accused of an improper relationship with a student, do not provide comments to the press; instead, talk to the law firm of Christopher Abel, a board-certified criminal defense attorney.

(image courtesy of Aaron Burden)


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