Hutto ISD fires contract employee over claim he had relationship with student

FILE - Hutto High School (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - Hutto High School (KXAN File Photo)

HUTTO, Texas (KXAN) — A contract employee who worked with the Hutto High School band was fired over allegations he had a relationship with a student, the district said Wednesday.

The school district says the inappropriate student-teacher relationship allegedly happened during the spring 2015 semester. Hutto High and district administrators say they were notified on Oct. 4, 2017 of the allegation.

The now former student was a 17-year-old senior at the time. The employee was with the district since 2010.

Hutto ISD says it immediately notified district police and city of Hutto police, which then began an investigation. A Hutto ISD employee reported the relationship to officials immediately after learning about it, the school district said.

The employee does not have a teaching certification, Hutto ISD said, adding they have notified all the relevant state agencies of the allegation.

“The district will continue to work with police to hold the contracted employee accountable to the fullest extent possible if wrong-doing is proven,” Hutto ISD said in a statement, encouraging any staff or students to come forward anytime they have a concern about possible inappropriate behavior.

In the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the Texas Education Agency opened 302 cases of inappropriate relationships with a student/minor.

It’s one reason state lawmakers passed a bill this session aimed at cracking down on the growing number of teachers accused of inappropriate relationships with students.

Rep. Tony Dale, R-Cedar Park, has been an advocate of the “Pass the Trash” bill.

“We didn’t want people moving from school district to school district and certainly didn’t want people perpetrating these kind of crimes on kids,” said Dale.

But, is it enough? The “Pass the Trash” bill covers licensed educators and administrators and is aimed at stopping the practice of covering up investigations into teachers accused of having inappropriate relationships with students by allowing them to resign, and ultimately, work again in other school districts. The bill ensures reporting and pursues criminal penalties on offenders.

In this case however, Rep. Dale explained that the law does not apply because the Hutto ISD contract employee was not licensed.

Dale filed a separate bill this session, but it did not pass. House Bill 1799 would also target unlicensed school employees and create a “Do Not Hire” registry.

“It’s something that I think needs to happen for these very reasons,” Dale said.

The bill came with a $1 million price tag.

“The fiscal cost of creating this registry is one of the reasons that we weren’t able to get it through,” said Dale. “In terms of the overall state budget of $219 billion over two years, it’s not a lot of money for the state budget, and I think it’s something that’s worthy to get accomplished. It’s not an outrageous amount of money in terms of what government does and we’re talking about protecting kids here.”

Although his bill did not pass this session, Rep. Dale says he’s not dropping the issue.

“Unfortunately, it does take sometimes two, three, four sessions to pass bills. If we’re able to point to these kinds of incidents that occur — as tragic as they are — it also can get more people to vote for the bill,” he said. “As a dad, as a parent, as a taxpayer, you know, it’s something that’s important. When you’re in session, if you’re pushing it and working it hard, that improves your chances. We’re gonna try again for sure.”

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story included the name of the employee; however, it’s not clear if the employee has been charged. 

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