Texas governor proposes tighter teacher screening - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Texas governor proposes tighter teacher screening

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Gov. Greg Abbott explains his proposed "do not hire" list for Texas schools. (YouTube) Gov. Greg Abbott explains his proposed "do not hire" list for Texas schools. (YouTube)
Kristen Jackson, 36, was sentenced to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. (Grayson County Jail) Kristen Jackson, 36, was sentenced to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. (Grayson County Jail)

We've covered plenty of cases recently concerning teachers having inappropriate relationships with students.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is trying to stop teachers who have been convicted in child sex offenses from finding work in Texas school districts.

The Texas Education Agency reported 222 cases of inappropriate student-teacher relationships in the 2015-2016 school year. That number climbed to 302 in the next school year.

On September 1,  a law went into effect requiring principals and superintendents to report cases of inappropriate student-teacher relationships. Violators could face jail time and fines up to $10,000.

Now Abbott wants to take it a step further.

"Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our communities," he said, announcing a plan to create a "do not hire" list for educators who are involved in an inappropriate relationship.

"This plan will continue our fight to crack down on predatory teacher-student relationships in Texas," Abbott said.

Just last month, Van Alstyne substitute teacher Kristen Jackson received the maximum sentence for sending explicit photos and videos to a student. Her case is one of the 302 in the State of Texas in 2017.

"If a teacher would have done that with one of my boys, well, I'd probably be in prison right now," said parent and former teacher Terry Rhoads.

Abbott's plan would create an online portal for district superintendents and principals to report inappropriate relationships.

"We have policies and there are laws in place that we follow that include reporting to law enforcement and state agencies in the event of any instance that requires oversight from outside," Sherman Independent School District spokeswoman Emily Parks said.

Although state laws are already in place, Abbott wants to give administrators another tool to protect students.

"They're set at a higher standard, and when they break that trust and they do something wrong like that, then they should never be allowed to be hired again," Rhoads said. "I don't think they deserve a second chance; I'm, sorry that's the way I feel."

Abbott also wants to improve training for district leaders and teachers on the prevention and reporting of improper student-teacher relationships.

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