Texas pushes ahead with 'bathroom bill' as others shy away
- Author: Larry Hoffman May 26, 2017,
May 26, 2017, 13:03
Greg Abbott signed a bill Thursday that makes it a criminal offense for school administrators to hide inappropriate teacher-student relationships. In his State of the State address in January, the governor asked lawmakers for legislation that "imposes real consequences" for teachers who assault students and administrators who stay quiet about it. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, superintendents and principals who intentionally fail to report teacher misconduct will be charged with a state jail felony.
This law mandates the automatic revocation of a teaching license when an educator receives deferred adjudication or must register as a sex offender for this abhorrent behavior.
S.B. 7 also criminalizes when an educator becomes romantically involved with a student under 18 years old, regardless of what school district the teacher works or where a student attends classes, which, until now, was not an offense.
Abbott concluded: "I am proud to sign S.B". Lawmakers agreed to use almost $1 billion from the state's Rainy Day Fund to help offset some cuts.
The number of reported cases of improper relationships between teachers and students grew 80 percent in the past eight years.
At the signing ceremony, Abbott thanked Bettencourt for his leadership. Standing behind Abbott, from left, Marc Salvato, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, Rep. Gary VanDeaver, Sen.
The Senate's original bill was similar to North Carolina's and Patrick has rejected the House's weakened version, though compromise is still possible in conference committee.
Still, Abbott told NBC 5 political reporter Julie Fine on Thursday it's too early to know whether he will call a special session.
Abbott, a social conservative presiding over his last legislative session before he faces re-election in 2018, has gone against his Republican peers by calling for such a law.