You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Senate passes bill to curb improper teacher-student relationships

The state Senate unanimously approved sweeping reforms on Wednesday intended to crack down on the growing problem of improper relationships between teachers and students.

Among the provisions of Senate Bill 7 filed by Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, and co-authored by the rest of the members of the Senate:

  • A teacher would be charged with improper relationship with a student, even if the student attends school outside of the teacher’s school district.
  • A teacher’s teaching license would be automatically revoked if he or she must register as a sex offender or receives a deferred adjudication of guilt.
  • Principals, not just superintendents, would have to report teacher misconduct to the Texas Education Agency.
  • A principal or superintendent who fails to report misconduct would be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and failure to report intentionally could lead to a state jail felony.

“It’s an attack on our school kids. The schools and the teachers and the students, especially, are irrevocably changed once a relationship like this occurs,” Bettencourt said.

The bill will now go to the House.

The number of cases of improper relationships between teachers and students in Texas have been on the rise over at least the last eight years. Last year, TEA opened 222 new cases. Between Sept. 1 and Jan. 31, the agency has opened 97 cases, surpassing the number during the same period last year.

An American-Statesman investigation last month found that fewer than half of the hundreds of teachers who lost their licenses after being investigated for an improper relationship with a student were charged with a crime. In cases where no charges occurred, very little information was readily available to the public.

Addressing the issue has been among the Senate’s top priorities this session.

Other provisions of SB 7 include:

  • The pension revocation of a teacher who has been convicted of a certain felony, including improper relationship with a student, sexual assault and continuous sexual abuse of a child.
  • Allowing TEA to subpoena witness testimony.
  • Requiring school districts to implement policies regarding proper teacher-student communications online and over text messages.
  • Revoking the teaching license of an administrator who helps a teacher who had improprieties with a student get a job at another school district; an administrator’s license could also be revoked if he or she should have known about the teacher’s improprieties.
  • TEA could investigate a school district’s accreditation if it does not cooperate with TEA on a teacher investigation.
  • More teacher training on proper boundaries with students.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Austin police honor pedicab driver who helped catch sexual assault suspect

Austin police are honoring a pedicab driver who played a crucial role in helping police catch a sexual assault suspect last year. Luis Palos was recognized today for his distinguished service. In the early morning hours of May 19, Palos heard a loud wail near Fifth and and San Antonio streets, according to the suspect’s arrest affidavit...
Texas House broadens police authority in ‘sanctuary cities’ bill
Texas House broadens police authority in ‘sanctuary cities’ bill

Lawmakers cried, fought and traded horses on the Texas House floor in a marathon debate Wednesday on the bill to ban so-called sanctuary cities, the common term for jurisdictions that decline to assist federal immigration enforcement. Calling it the defining showdown of this legislative session for their constituents and wearing black in protest, outnumbered...
Raucous crowd protests ‘sanctuary cities’ bill at Texas Capitol 
Raucous crowd protests ‘sanctuary cities’ bill at Texas Capitol 

Immigrant families as well as their friends and allies gathered at the Texas Capitol Wednesday evening, a crowd of several hundred dressed in black to protest a state bill that would ban so-called sanctuary cities. The Texas Senate has already approved the bill, and the House is taking up the bill today.  City Council Member Greg Casar, who...
Texas members of Congress differ on Trump tax plan
Texas members of Congress differ on Trump tax plan

“Pro-growth tax reform should be our goal, and it’s something that’s united Republicans and Democrats in the past, and there is no reason why we shouldn’t be united again in accomplishing that tax reform. So I look forward to hearing more about the president’s proposal, and I applaud him for making a bold statement about...
Austin school officer who scuffled with eighth-grader faces grand jury
Austin school officer who scuffled with eighth-grader faces grand jury

In the first case under a new system for handling possible police misconduct, Travis County prosecutors have begun presenting a case to grand jurors against a former Austin school district officer captured on video in a physical confrontation with a middle school student. Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore confirmed the case to the...
More Stories