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Are School Employees Prohibited From Relationships With Students?

 Posted on May 19, 2023 in Criminal Defense

plano criminal defense lawyerOver the past few decades, several high-profile cases have involved inappropriate relationships between teachers and students. In Texas, there are laws that specifically prohibit these types of relationships, and teachers who have sex with students or otherwise engage in sexual conduct involving minors may face criminal charges. However, there may be some confusion about whether these prohibitions extend to other types of educators or people who work at a school. By understanding who is covered by these laws and when a person may face accusations of crimes against children, those who could potentially face criminal charges can be prepared to defend themselves should the need arise.

Laws That Affect Relationships Between Educators and Students

The Texas Penal Code defines an offense known as "improper relationship between educator and student," making it a crime for a teacher or other educator to engage in sexual intercourse or sexual conduct with a student at a school where they work. Specifically, the law prohibits these types of relationships with students at elementary schools and high schools, regardless of whether a school is public or private. Notably, college students are not covered by this law, although if a professor or other employee at a college engages in sexual conduct with a student who is younger than 17 years old, they could potentially be charged with an offense such as sexual assault of a child or indecency with a child.

A school official or employee may face criminal charges if they engage in sexual conduct with a student who is enrolled at the school where they work. In addition, people who work in educational positions that require licensing or certification (even if they do not actually have the required certificates) may be charged with having an inappropriate relationship with a student if they engage in sexual conduct with a student that they know is enrolled in an elementary school or secondary school or a student who is participating in educational activities sponsored by a school district. These charges may also apply if an educator engages in online solicitation of a minor that they know is a student.

In addition to teachers, there are a variety of other people who may be considered educators that are covered by this law. They include:

  • Principals or other administrators

  • School librarians

  • Educational aides

  • School counselors or psychologists

  • Guidance counselors

  • Teacher interns or trainees

  • School nurses

  • Social workers

  • Speech language pathologists

  • Audiologists

  • Physical therapists

  • Occupational therapists

  • Office workers such as school secretaries

  • Custodians or maintenance staff members

A person who is considered an educator who is accused of having an improper relationship with a student may be charged with a second degree felony. If convicted, they may be sentenced to between two and 20 years in jail, and they may also be fined a maximum of $10,000. Because this is considered a sex crime, a person will usually be required to register as a sex offender.

Contact Our Collin County Crimes Against Children Defense Lawyers

For teachers and others who work with children, few things are worse than being accused of crimes that put children at risk of harm. Educators who are facing criminal charges involving inappropriate relationships with students will need to determine how they can defend against these accusations, avoid a conviction, and protect their reputations. At The Crowder Law Firm, P.C., we provide representation for defendants in these cases, helping them determine the best defense strategies to use. Contact our Dallas crimes against children defense attorneys at 214-544-0061 to discuss your case in a free consultation and get the legal help you need.




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