State law seemingly does not require public school systems to notify district parents when allegations of abuse have been made against a school employee, according to an education attorney.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, some parents with children enrolled at Prosper ISD were outraged when they discovered that a bus driver had been accused of sexually assaulting two girls from a district elementary school more than 100 times in 2021. Parents alleged that the district was not transparent about the matter and failed to inform parents until a lawsuit made the issue public.

The district was rocked by further controversy after the president of Prosper ISD’s board of trustees — Andrew Wilborn — was arrested for allegedly engaging in indecency with a minor who attended Antioch Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas, where the school board leader worked as a pastor.

“As far as I’m aware, state law does not require that sort of notification. And that was Prosper’s excuse for not telling the other parents of children who rode [the alleged perpetrator’s] bus,” education attorney Janelle Davis said in an interview with the Texas Scorecard, commenting on Prosper ISD’s seeming decision not to be forthcoming.

“But on the flip side, there is no prohibition from doing so either obviously so long as the personal information of the victims is protected,” David added.

The issue of students being assaulted by school employees has arisen repeatedly in North Texas, with at least three instances reported at Dallas ISD in the last year alone.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, a high school chemistry teacher, a middle school athletics director, and a hall monitor were all arrested for allegedly assaulting children. The teacher and athletics director were accused of engaging in improper relationships with minors, while the hall monitor reportedly punched a student in the face.

“I personally know several people who have made complaints about things that have happened to their children in school — not necessarily sexual harm, but harm. They’ve been retaliated against. Their child’s then been accused of a crime anonymously, or stuff like that. It sounds crazy, but it happens,” Davis claimed to the Texas Scorecard.

Davis said that a House bill introduced during the Texas Legislature’s latest regular session would have instituted reporting requirements for public school systems in situations like Prosper ISD. However, HB 4978 did not make it out of the House Committee on Public Education.

“As soon as practicable after receiving a complaint alleging the misconduct of an employee involving a student … [educational institutions] shall notify the parents of or persons standing in parental relation to each student who regularly interacts with the employee of the existence and nature of the complaint,” reads the bill.

Still, Davis noted that there are already a number of reporting requirements in place per state law. Teachers and school nurses are designated as mandatory reporters who must convey instances of child abuse to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Additionally, superintendents must notify the Texas Education Agency (TEA) when a district employee resigns or is terminated for allegedly abusing a child so that the employee cannot just get rehired at another school district.

“In terms of that reporting requirement, it doesn’t seem like anybody’s enforcing that,” Davis added, per Texas Scorecard. “Failure to report those things to the TEA within seven days is a state jail felony, punishable by jail time or fines.”