State officials say the number of Texas teachers accused of engaging in romantic relationships with students has increased for the 10th consecutive year.
The Texas Education Agency in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 1 opened 429 cases of improper relationships, a number representing a 42 percent increase from the previous year and the largest one-year jump in at least a decade.
Doug Phillips, head of teacher investigations for TEA, told a legislative panel Tuesday that the significant increase is largely due to a new state law that expands the requirements for who must report misconduct.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, the law increased the penalty for principals and superintendents who fail to report suspected teacher misconduct. Superintendents and principals, who previously faced loss of their professional license for failing to report teacher misconduct, now could be fined $10,000 and jailed for up to two years.
The Austin American-Statesman reports the law also requires school districts to set policies for students and teachers when it comes to texting, emailing and using social media and other electronic communication.