Stories of inappropriate relationships between an educator and student continue to make headlines across Texas. Being in this situation can have a devastating impact on your reputation and career. Your mug shot may be displayed on the evening news, and you will face backlash from your community.
Texas takes improper relationships between students and educators very seriously. It’s advised you contact legal representation immediately if you have been arrested or charged with an improper relationship between educator and student.
Legal counsel can defend you in court and guide you through the complicated legal process. Schedule a time to consult with the criminal defense department at The Gonzalez Law Group. Call (832) 530-4070.
The Gonzalez Law Group defends those accused of sex crimes in communities across Harris County such as Pearland, Webster, Pasadena, Houston, and Brookside Village.
- Relationships Between Student and Educator
- Penalties for Improper Relationship in Texas
- Controversy Surrounding the Law
- Additional Resources
Relationship Between Student and Educator
It’s important to know the laws governing improper relationships apply to all public and private school employees. This includes office administrators, librarians, coaches, and principles.
Improper relationship between a student and educator is charged under the same section of the Texas Penal Code as indecency with a child. According to section 21.12, it’s against the law for an educator to engage in any sexual activity with a student enrolled at the school where they work.
Texas has seen over a 40% increase in the rise of inappropriate student – educator relationships, so they have taken a step to criminalize the activity further. If an educator is in a relationship with a student at another school, but the school is in the same district where the educator works, they can still be charged with the crime.
Communicating with a student online can also be considered improper. For online communication between a student and educator to be illegal, the educator must be communicating in a sexual manner or distributing sexually explicit materials to the student.
Penalties for Improper Relationship in Texas
You can still be charged with an improper relationship if the student was of legal age and they consented to the behavior. Because of the sharp increase in educator-student relationships, Texas heavily penalizes the crime.
According to the Penal Code, an improper relationship between educator and student is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. On top of this, the State Board for Education Certification (SBEC) will take disciplinary actions as well.
The SBEC may take the following disciplinary action:
- Revoke or cancel a license
- Issue and inscribed or non-inscribed reprimand
- Suspended a license for a set time
- Restrict the renewal, holding or issuance of a certificate
- Any additional restricts deemed necessary by the SBEC
You may be required to register as a sex offender if the student was a minor. As a registered sex offender you will automatically lose your teaching license. You will also be restricted on where you live, work and who you communicate with.
Even if you aren’t required to register as a sex offender, a felony conviction will still be on your criminal record. As a convicted felon, you will lose various fundamental rights and have a difficult time finding employment and housing.
Controversy Surrounding the Law
Many believe the law governing improper relationship is far-reaching. For instance, a consenting 18-year-old student is in a relationship with a 23-year-old teacher at another school, in a different district. One person in the relationship is an educator and the other a student, but the relationship is legal.
If the teacher had been working in the same school or district as the student, they would have been charged with the crime. But since the teacher and student are in separate districts, the law does not apply.
The social stigma surrounding an educator and student relationship may never go away. A conviction like this can tarnish family relationships and push friends away, leaving the defendant without support. Even if the educator is found innocent, their education career is likely over.
Additional Resources for Improper Relationship
Educator Discipline | Texas Education Agency – Visit the official website of the TEA to learn more about disciplinary actions they may take against teachers accused of crimes. You can also find answers to commonly asked questions such as conduct that can lead to disciplinary action and who the SBEC may investigate.
Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student | Texas Penal Code – Follow the link to read the section of the Penal Code governing improper relationship. You can read the legal definition of the offense, learn about affirmative defenses and if the student’s name can be released to the media.
Harris County Improper Relationship Defense Lawyer
Contact The Gonzalez Law Group if you have been accused of or arrested for an improper relationship between educator and teacher. We can help you explore all your defense options. Call (832) 530-4070 to schedule a confidential consultation.
Our firm defends clients throughout Harris County in areas such as Almeda, Fresno, Bellaire, Jacinto City, and Galena Park.