The Texas Education Agency reports the number of teachers having inappropriate relationships with students could surpass last year’s number, which was an all-time high for the Lone Star State. The agency recently revealed it investigated a staggering 162 improper teacher-student relationships between September 1, 2015, and May 31, 2016, alone.
According to CBS News, the Texas Education Agency investigated a total of 188 teacher-student sex scandals within the last fiscal year, making it the fifth year in a row that the forbidden relationships have increased.
Most recently, former teacher Alexandria Vera, 24, was impregnated by a male student, who was only 13 when the sexual relationship began.
Vera, who was an eighth-grade teacher at a Houston school, was arrested in April on a felony charge of repeatedly sexually abusing a child under the age of 14. According to reports, the young woman surrendered to police without incident. However, as reported by Independent, she was later released on a $100,000 bond.
Court documents provide some insight into the inappropriate relationship. According to reports, Alexandria Vera told police she never concealed the relationship, and as a matter of fact, the teen’s parents were aware she was dating and having sex with their son.
The English teacher explained that the relationship began in 2015, when she met the teen during summer school. She said the student initially approached her asking for her Instagram ID, which she refused to provide. However, they started spending more time together then the teen was placed in one of her English classes.
— Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) June 6, 2016
At some point during the summer, Alexandria Vera became concerned because the student did not show up for class. In response to a message concerning his whereabouts, the teen asked for his teacher’s personal phone number and asked her out on a date.
Vera admitted she gave the 13-year-old boy her personal phone number and agreed to go on a date. The teacher said she and the teen had their first kiss in her car when she picked him up. The following day, the teacher and student reportedly had sexual intercourse for the first time.
In January, Vera revealed she was pregnant with her 13-year-old student’s child. According to her, the teen’s parents were actually happy about the pregnancy and very supportive of the relationship between their son and his English teacher.
The former teacher said the parents were fully aware of the relationship since October. She also claims she was often invited to family gatherings, where she was introduced as their son’s “girlfriend.”
The relationship between the pair was an “open secret in the school,” as the boy was reportedly seen grabbing the former teacher’s rear end on a number of occasions. The rumors eventually prompted a visit from Child Protective Services.
Vera, who was pregnant at the time, reportedly denied the relationship and had an abortion. However, when authorities searched her cell phone, they found numerous incriminating messages between the teacher and her student.
According to reports, Texas lawmakers are expected to tackle the “sexpidemic” at the next legislative session, which is scheduled for next year. At a recent hearing, state lawmakers and members of the Texas House Public Education Committee blamed social media for the increase in teacher-student sex scandals reported by the Texas Education Agency.
— Stern Fan (@Stern6822) June 3, 2016
Kathy Tortoreo, director of crisis services at Family Support services in Amarillo, Texas, said “in the past, you might not have had students choosing to interact socially with a teacher. Now they’ll friend them on Facebook or they’ll reach out to them on Snapchat.” She continued “the adult is supposed to understand the boundary, and the adult is supposed to uphold the boundary.”
Christiana Green, director of the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas, testified before the House panel and underlined the importance of training staff on how to spot abuse before it occurs. She also urged schools to dissuade social media interactions between students and teachers by setting and enforcing strict boundaries.
She said “our goal of preventing these inappropriate relationships from ever developing should be to identify and quash these cases at the point of grooming before any abuse happens. The part that’s hardest is having the courage to initiate these conversations. This is not an issue that people like to talk about.”
The Texas Education Agency’s report underlines the fact that schools are the first line of defense in preventing inappropriate relationships between teachers and their students.
[Image via Aliaksei Smalenski/Shutterstock]