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Bettencourt Pushes For Crackdown On Sexual Misconduct By Teachers

The state senator has pre-filed a bill that would criminalize “passing the trash,” the practice of transferring problem teachers or administrators to other school districts. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick says passing the bill is one of his top priorities for 2017.



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State Senator Paul Bettencourt announcing the pre-filing of SB7 at his district office in West Houston.

Republican State Senator Paul Bettencourt has pre-filed a bill (SB 7) aimed at cracking down on inappropriate relationships between educators and students.

"First off, it's not illegal for a teacher or administrator to have a relationship with an underage person outside of their own school district," said Bettencourt during a press conference at his district office in West Houston. "That means they can have one in the neighboring school district. That's part of this bill. We're going to close that loophole. If someone has been convicted of this, they're going to lose their teaching certification." Texas law already prohibits such relationships between educators and students in the same school district.

The bill would also make it a crime for administrators to respond to allegations of sexual misconduct by simply transferring the teacher to another school district, a practice known as "passing the trash."

"If anyone willingly knows that they're putting somebody into a teaching position that has this background, from principals to superintendents, we're going to make it a criminal violation," Bettencourt said, "because this is something that we can't turn our heads on anymore."

The bill follows a sharp uptick in cases under state investigation. The Texas Education Agency has opened 49 cases looking into teacher misconduct since the start of the 2016-2017 school year. That's up 13 percent compared to the same period last year.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick released a statement commending Bettencourt for filing the bill. He said he is making the passage of SB 7 one of his top priorities for the coming legislative session.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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