Is Texas Teacher Misconduct Under-Reported?

Teacher in front of students
Teacher in front of students | Image by Drazen Zigic/Shutterstock

An advocacy group published a new report claiming Texas education authorities are mishandling accusations of misconduct against public school teachers and staff.

Citizens Defending Freedom (CDF), a group that says it is “on a mission to empower and equip American citizens to defend their liberty at the local level,” recently conducted an evaluation of how the Texas Education Agency (TEA) handles misconduct reports from Texas public schools.

Despite state law requiring that such misconduct be reported, CDF found “serious and unjust inconsistencies” in the TEA-administered misconduct reporting system.

CDF leveraged TEA data on 97 independent school districts in 24 counties that was obtained through public information requests. This data revealed that 120 sexual misconduct cases and 460 cases of inappropriate relationships with a student or minor had been reported through August 2023. Of these reports, just 110 school employees ended up on the Do Not Hire Registry, and only 24 had their teaching certificates permanently revoked.

A good chunk of the TEA data was incomplete, such as cases on 411 individuals at Dallas ISD that had no case codes, no investigation dates, and no dispositions, according to CDF.

Yet the main takeaway from CDF’s investigation was that despite Texas law requiring the permanent revocation of state certification from anyone proven to have committed either offense, many offenders received lesser sanctions from TEA before resuming teaching.

Moreover, CDF claims that several loopholes exist in the state law, such as the absence of a mandate requiring districts to check the Do Not Hire Registry before hiring new teachers. The registry only comprises educators whose certifications have been revoked by the State Board for Educator Certification due to an investigation into misconduct allegations involving students or minors. As such, CDF called for the creation of a compulsory comprehensive statewide protocol for reviewing educators prior to their employment.

The report comes on the heels of dozens of Texas educators and other school employees becoming the subject of allegations of misconduct involving students, as covered by The Dallas Express. This has included the cases of a former college readiness tutor at Austin ISD accused of child grooming, a former athletic director at Dallas ISD accused of an improper relationship with a student, and a former school resource officer at Frisco ISD accused of sexually assaulting a minor.

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