Rising number of inappropriate student-teacher relationships in Texas

FILE - Classroom photo (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - Classroom photo (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Parents drop their kids off at school hoping they will be protected and taught by teachers. However, safety concerns are being raised after numerous cases of inappropriate student teacher relationships in Texas.

The Texas Education Agency is requesting more staff to investigate inappropriate relationships between teachers and students. They will ask lawmakers for two investigators and a staffer this upcoming legislative session.

A spokesperson tells us the number of staff investigating inappropriate relationships has stayed the same in recent years, even though more cases are now being reported. The TEA will also ask for a bill to be passed requiring districts to adopt an electronic media policy.

“What that means is a local school board would sit down and look at what works best for their district and determine how educators are allowed to communicate with student and by what means and methods and how and why,” said Lauren Callahan, TEA spokesperson.

Callahan says the social media policies would be up to local districts because the needs of bigger districts like AISD are different than the needs of smaller districts.

In 2015, former AISD teacher Tiffany Howard, 41, was arrested for having an inappropriate relationship with a student at Bowie High School. Letters were discovered in Howard’s desk at school to a 9th grade girl saying “I really don’t think you have any idea of how I feel for you. I can’t wait to hold you all night.”

Hutto High School’s football coach was arrested for an improper relationship with a student. Jake Fenske was the team’s quarterback coach, track coach and science teacher.

A former teacher for Vista Ridge High School was arrested on accusations he had an improper relationship with a student in July. Police say Ian J. Edgeley’s wife informed investigators of his relationship with an 18-year-old student. Nude pictures of the victim were found on Edgeley’s computer.

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