Dozens of arrests involving Texas teachers occurred in 2023, suggesting a steady growth in sexual misconduct incidents.

At least 100 Texas educators and school staff found themselves at the center of allegations of sexual misconduct in 2023. Some of the accusations of indecency with a student made this year were against a college readiness tutor at Austin ISD, an athletic director at Dallas ISD, and a school resource officer at Frisco ISD, as previously covered by The Dallas Express.

These alleged misdeeds, ranging from grooming to sexually assaulting students, incur hefty criminal penalties upon conviction in Texas. For instance, if a school employee is found soliciting or engaging in sexual contact with a student of any age, they could face 2 to 20 years in prison and have their state certification revoked.

Nonetheless, the ongoing epidemic of sexual abuse at education institutions is a nationwide issue, Business Insider revealed. Terri Miller, president of advocacy group S.E.S.A.M.E., claimed an institutional culture of secrecy is protecting sex predators. Anything from non-disclosure agreements with victims to teacher union contracts can keep accusations of sexual misconduct levied against school employees under wraps.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Texas law reportedly does not require public school systems to notify parents when allegations of abuse have been made against district employees.

Additionally, a recent episode involving a Godley ISD parent who was an active member of several school committees revealed considerable gaps in Texas’ background check process, as covered by The Dallas Express. Whistleblowers revealed to district officials that the volunteer in question was a convicted prostitute.

Some stakeholders have called for more action on the part of state lawmakers to establish better oversight to safeguard children.

“We need to stop the pedophiles from having direct access to our kids,” said Aileen Blachowski, a Texas mother involved with the advocacy group Texas Education 911, according to the Texas Scorecard. “We need an inspector general for education.”

There are other factors likely contributing to the rise in teacher sex crimes.

Public education in Texas, which was ranked 28 out of 50 in 2023 for quality by WalletHub, as reported by Defender, has suffered from a longstanding shortfall in teachers. The COVID-19 pandemic, school closures, and the high stress accompanying such events purportedly exacerbated the teacher shortage.

Additionally, school districts have been facing considerable budgetary woes due to post-pandemic inflation and declining student enrollment, affecting teacher recruitment and retention. The state’s attrition rate spiked several percentage points during the 2022-2023 school year, reaching 13.44%, according to the Texas Education Agency.

For some stakeholders, remedying the school system’s troubles begins with demanding greater accountability from district officials.

“Our kids are literally a captive audience, exceptionally vulnerable, and the pedos know where to find them and where they will not be held accountable. And today that is in Texas public schools,” Blachowski said. “That has got to stop. One more victim and one more day is not acceptable.”