A Bay City teacher was arrested last month after the father of a 13-year-old boy caught his son and the educator having sex in the backseat of a car. It wasn’t the only such case in Texas this holiday season.
Rachel Gonzalez, 44, was arrested Dec. 15 and booked on charges of “online solicitation of a minor and improper relationship between educator and student,” Bay City police said.
The same week, Nicole Marie-Faires Andrews, a former middle school teacher, was accused by the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office of engaging in an illicit sexual relationship with a minor she met at a local church.
The Texas Education Agency opened more than 300 cases into educator sexual misconduct with students in fiscal year 2017 — 32 percent more than the year before.
At last count, TEA had launched a whopping 1,503 teacher-sex investigations since 2010. Cases have involved children as young as 6 years old.
The incidence of teacher-student sex in Texas is alarming, says state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, who authored legislation to crack down on the problem.
The Houston Republican’s measure — Senate Bill 7 — passed by the Texas Legislature in 2017, expanded the TEA’s authority to investigate union-negotiated “passing the trash” deals that enable educators accused of misconduct to resign with letters of recommendation.
The secret deals have helped pedophile teachers land new jobs in different school districts, where the illegal sexploits continue.
Sixty percent of teachers charged with having inappropriate relations with students in Harris County since 2008 received “deferred adjudication,” which amounts, essentially, to probation. Those deals were given to teachers found having sex with students 16 and younger.
A 2014 investigation by Houston’s ABC-13 News found Texas topped the nation in the number of cases of teachers charged with or found guilty of inappropriate sexual relationships with students.
Bettencourt’s bill expanded reporting requirements for suspected abuse to include principals and banned anyone who receives deferred adjudication from teaching again in Texas.
But years of lax enforcement and secret deals fostered a culture of predatory behavior that persists to this day.
The Texas Educators’ Code of Ethics — which outlines ethical conduct toward students and calls on instructors to refrain from “inappropriately communicating with students through the use of social media” — appears to ring hollow as cases of teacher-student sex continue to pile up.
Kenric Ward can be reached at [email protected].