EDITORIAL: Outlaw probation for teacher-student sex
Lawmakers are considering several proposals in this session to stem the growing problem of teacher-student sex, but key to the whole effort is the certainty of time in prison.
If educators know that sexual relationships with students will absolutely cause them to spend at least some time behind bars, more of them won’t cross that line.
Unfortunately - and incredibly - that doesn’t always happen now.
A former teacher in the Eanes school district received 10 years of probation this month after pleading guilty to sexual contact with not one but two students.
Another teacher in the East Central district near San Antonio resigned this month after admitting to a sexual relationship with a student that lasted five months. She has not yet been prosecuted for the offense, suggesting a possible replay of a familiar formula in these cases: Resign quickly when caught and get out of town, and maybe school officials and prosecutors don’t have to deal with a messy trial.
That may be convenient for some, but it’s not justice. And since teacher-student sex cases have increased in each of the past six years in Texas, it’s clear that current sanctions aren’t quite getting the message across.
In a bizarre twist, some legislators want to add criminal penalties for a teacher or administrator who knows about a fellow educator having sex with a student but fails to report it.
That’s justified, but it only reinforces the need for mandatory minimum sentences for the teachers who cause the problems in the first place.
Even Alexandria Vera, the notorious Montgomery County teacher who became pregnant after a ninth-month relationship with a middle-school boy, got deferred adjudicated probation along with her 10-year prison sentence. In theory, her conviction could be erased from official records in later years.
That kind of leniency is unwarranted for this very preventable crime. It will occur to some extent, but swift and certain punishment will make it as rare as possible.
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