SENATE PASSES STUDENT SAFETY BILLS
|Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa's bill would tighten reporting requirements for cases involving sexual misconduct of a teacher.|
(AUSTIN) — A loophole that allows some teachers accused of sexual misconduct to avoid background checks would be closed under a bill approved by the Senate Tuesday. According to McAllen Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, the Texas Education Agency is only notified of sexual misconduct by a teacher if charges are filed. In some situations, where administrators negotiate with an accused teacher to let them resign rather than face charges, the state has no idea that this teacher might pose a threat to students. That teacher can then move on to another school with a clean record. SB 1058 would require schools to report alleged sexual misconduct of a teacher if the administrators have evidence of misconduct, even if no charge is filed. "This would allow TEA to take enforcement action against the teacher and provide safety and protection to our students in our public school system," said Hinojosa.
Another bill aimed at student safety, SB 1169 by New Braunfels Senator Donna Campbell, also passed the Senate Tuesday. That bill would require new teachers get training in suicide awareness and prevention. Campbell told her colleagues that one in ten Texans under the age of 18 attempt suicide and one in six have considered it at some point. "Educators are often in a position to notice warning signs in students before others," she said. The two hour course would also be required for all currently serving teachers, but in the future it would be offered as part of new teacher orientation.
The Senate will reconvene Wednesday, March 13 at 11 a.m.