AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today signed Senate Bill 7, relating to improper relationships between educators and students and the reporting of educator misconduct. Commissioner of Education Mike Morath issued the following statement:
“Parents should be confident that our schools are places of learning and trust for all students. When violations of that trust occur, there should be consequences. Senate Bill 7 provides the Texas Education Agency, law enforcement and local school districts with additional tools to continue our work in combatting educator misconduct.”
Senate Bill 7 was authored by Sen. Paul Bettencourt and sponsored in the House of Representatives by Rep. Ken King. Passed by the 85th Texas Legislature, it requires principals to notify their superintendents if a teacher is terminated or resigns following allegations of serious misconduct. This requirement will help ensure cases can be investigated by TEA and that the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) can sanction an educator’s certificate where appropriate.
The legislation increases the penalty for superintendents who fail to report misconduct to SBEC and provides for the automatic revocation of the certificates of educators who are required to register as sex offenders.
Senate Bill 7 also calls for local school districts to take a more proactive approach to combatting inappropriate relationships by requiring them to adopt an electronic communication policy to govern communication between educators and students.
With the governor’s signature, Senate Bill 7 will take effect on Sept. 1, 2017, coinciding with the start of the 2017-2018 school year.