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Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student: A Breach of Trust

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student: A Breach of Trust

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Improper Student/Educator Relationships in Texas

When students attend school, they are expected to behave in a manner that allows them to learn and study. However, their teachers are also expected to conduct themselves in a way that is appropriate for a classroom environment. Teachers and educators are trusted to help their students get a well-rounded education. When an inappropriate student-teacher relationship interferes with this learning environment, the trust placed in that educator by the students, their parents and the faculty has been violated.

The results of these kinds of relationships can include serious criminal penalties. Texas laws are very clear about inappropriate relationships between educators and their students.

What Is An Improper Relationship?

In the context of a classroom or an educational establishment, educators are expected to maintain a professional appearance and attitude. This includes avoiding any type of physical relationship with any student at their school. Section 21.12 of the Texas Penal Code states that an educator is guilty of a criminal offense if he or she:

For the purposes of this law, these types of relationships are prohibited at both public and private primary and secondary schools. This means any public or private school up to the 12th grade level. This particular law does not necessarily apply to colleges, universities or institutions of higher learning in the state of Texas.

These laws apply to any cases involving an educator and any student who is enrolled at the same school district where the educator works. This means that an educator can be prosecuted for an improper relationship, even if the involved student is not in that educator’s class. Also, this law can still apply even if the student is at the age of 18 when the relationship occurs. This is because the law is used to prevent educators from using their influence to have inappropriate relationships with their students.

The Laws in Texas

Texas has one of the strictest laws in the country when it comes to improper relationships between educators and students. This is due, in part, to the fact that Texas has one of the highest rates of these improper relationships when compared to all other states. There were 179 documented cases of improper educator and student relationships in 2014 alone. As such, the penalties for this crime are very severe.

A first-time conviction for this offense can lead to:

  • A conviction on a second degree felony charge
  • Incarceration in state prison for up to 20 years
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Additionally, a person who is convicted of this crime may never be allowed to work as an educator in the state of Texas again. They may face a permanent loss of any educational licenses or permits that they had obtained. In some cases, they may even be required to register as a sex offender.

Recent Cases

There have been many cases of improper educator and student relationships in Texas over the past several years. For example, in 2014 at Permian High School in Odessa, five teachers were charged with these improper relationships in the space of a year. Teachers from nearly every part of Texas have faced these kinds of charges in the past few years. Some people argue that the high number of these cases is caused by an increase in the use of cell phones, text messaging and social media.

Whatever the cause, these kinds of charges are very serious. The first thing to do when facing charges of an improper relationships is to find and hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney may be able to provide helpful advice and legal guidance in a hurry. When these kinds of charges are filed, time is a very important factor. Creating a strong legal defense as soon as possible is the best way to fight these charges in court.

Have you been accused of an improper relationship with a student? Get the legal defense you need today. Attorney Greg Tsioros can help you. Contact his office today at 832-752-5972.

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