Unions have concern with teacher impropriety bill


HB 218 would require applicants for a school job to disclose accusations of improprieties with a minor.

Teachers’ unions are afraid that educators who are falsely accused would be hurt by the requirement.

A bill filed by a Cedar Park legislator would require anyone applying for a job in a Texas public school to disclose whether he or she had been accused of improprieties with a minor.

House Bill 218 by Republican state Rep. Tony Dale is intended to crack down on the rising number of improper relationships between teachers and students, an issue that has become a priority for lawmakers. The bill, which Dale presented Monday to the House Educator Quality Subcommittee, also would require more teacher training and tighten the language in the criminal law about improper teacher-student relationships.

Although they’ve supported similar legislation and most of the components in Dale’s bill, teacher groups said Monday that they were hesitant to fully back HB 218 because it would require job applicants to disclose accusations of improprieties, even if they were false.

“Those falsely accused teachers could face some serious harm to their employment prospects,” said Mark Wiggins, lobbyist with the Association of Texas Professional Educators.

The Texas State Teachers Association and the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers also expressed similar concerns during the hearing.

Dale’s bill would require job applicants to explain the facts of the case and whether the accusations were true or false. A false accusation wouldn’t prevent an applicant from being hired, the bill says, but failing to disclose required information in the affidavit could lead to termination.

Dale told the subcommittee that the disclosure requirement is meant to keep teachers who have had improper relationships with students from quietly resigning from one school district to go to teach elsewhere. He referred to half a dozen such cases in Central Texas and an investigation by the American-Statesman, published in February, that found that teacher improprieties are often kept secret by school districts.

The Statesman set up a database to help the public identify former teachers accused of such misconduct and where they have worked in the past.

“It’s time that we fully address this issue and make sure that educators who have inappropriate relationships with students are not allowed to teach again,” Dale said.

Dale’s bill would also require school districts to adopt a policy to immediately notify parents of allegations that their child had been in a relationship with a teacher.

The bulk of Dale’s bill is the same as another sweeping measure — Senate Bill 7 — that the Senate approved earlier this month. Both bills would:

• Allow teachers to be charged with improper relationship regardless of where the student attends school.

• Automatically revoke a teaching license if an educator must register as a sex offender or receives deferred adjudication of guilt over an improper relationship with a student, among other offenses against minors.

• Require principals, not just superintendents, to report teacher misconduct to the Texas Education Agency. Failure to report would be a misdemeanor.

• Revoke the teaching license of an administrator who helps a teacher who had an improper relationship with a student get a job at another school district.

• Require school districts to implement policies on proper teacher-student electronic communication.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Texas News & Politics

JUST IN: SWAT team responding to barricaded person in North Austin, police say
JUST IN: SWAT team responding to barricaded person in North Austin, police say

A person is barricaded at a location in North Austin and an Austin police SWAT team is responding, officials said Monday night. Police reported the incident at the 600 block of Barwood Park about 11:20 p.m. Police are urging people to avoid the area. This is a developing story; check back for details.
Man shot, seriously injured on Manor Road
Man shot, seriously injured on Manor Road

A man was shot and seriously injured on Manor Road on Monday night, Austin-Travis County EMS officials said. Medics responded to Manor Road and Rogge Lane at 8:34 p.m. and found a man, estimated to be in his 20s, with a gunshot wound, EMS officials said. He was taken to Dell Seton Medical Center with serious, potentially life-threatening injuries,...
Austin bombings: Latest explosion has experts tweaking bomber profile
Austin bombings: Latest explosion has experts tweaking bomber profile

Law enforcement and others seeking clues into the mind of what now appears to be a serial bomber say the latest explosive incident on Sunday night, the city’s fourth over 17 days, provided more trail crumbs than definitive signposts pointing toward a potential suspect. Austin interim Police Chief Brian Manley has said preliminary indications...
UT Faculty Council objects to removal of books in Fine Arts Library
UT Faculty Council objects to removal of books in Fine Arts Library

Amid student and faculty protests against any consideration of plans to take more books and materials from the University of Texas’ Fine Arts Library, the UT Faculty Council on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution objecting to further removal. In an unusually packed faculty council meeting with more than 200 in attendance, various faculty...
4th Austin bomb more sophisticated than others, leaves city on edge
4th Austin bomb more sophisticated than others, leaves city on edge

The suspected serial bomber terrorizing Austin is more sophisticated than originally believed, but the motive behind the attacks remains a mystery, officials said Monday after a Sunday night explosion that wounded two men in Southwest Austin. The latest incident, the fourth attack in 17 days, signaled to law enforcement that the bomber or bombers have...
More Stories