Texas - Citizens Defending Freedom (CDF) released a comprehensive report uncovering critical issues in the handling of educator misconduct across a wide range of Texas school districts. The report emphasizes the failure to report instances of educator misconduct, a state-jail felony in Texas, and highlights existing weaknesses in the reporting structure that undermine student safety.
The report specifically addresses offenses such as sexual misconduct (SEXMIS) and inappropriate relationships with students (IRWSM), both of which should lead to the permanent revocation of an educator's teaching certificate. Shockingly, educators found guilty of such offenses often receive lesser sanctions, creating potential loopholes for them to re-enter the education system.
Under Texas law, permanent revocation would prohibit an educator from obtaining any teaching certificate in the future. However, the report revealed seams in the reporting structure, including inaccuracies in data collection and inconsistencies in compiling information from reporting mechanisms. School districts lack mandates to centralize relevant misconduct information, contributing to the challenges in vetting educators on a statewide level.
The report advocates for mandatory, comprehensive statewide hiring practices to provide schools with a clearer picture of the educators they hire. The proposed solutions prioritize the protection and well-being of Texas schoolchildren and seek to strengthen parental rights in matters related to the notification of investigations into educator misconduct.
Notably, the report points out a lack of transparency regarding the initiation of investigations by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The circumstances warranting an investigation are not publicly disclosed, hindering access to vital information necessary for ensuring the safety of schoolchildren and promoting parental involvement.
As reported in local media in August 2022, an incident at Prosper Independent School District (Prosper ISD) involved the alleged repeated molestation of two girls under the age of 10 by their school bus driver. A Public Information Request (PIR) by CDF to the TEA revealed a failure by Prosper ISD to use the TEA’s Misconduct Reporting Portal within the required seven days, as mandated by Texas Administrative Code §249.14. Under Texas Education Code §22.093, the failure to report such incidents is a state-jail felony.
The investigation gathered PIRs to 97 independent school districts across 24 counties in Texas, uncovering similar inconsistencies in reporting. The public information gathered from the TEA, indicated a lack of reporting by various districts, raising concerns about under-reported cases of educator misconduct. The findings, compiled into a master spreadsheet, form part of the report.
CDF's investigation also brings to light instances where districts like Lovejoy ISD failed to report cases, or the information did not make it into the public portal, despite public assurances. This reveals inconsistencies between public statements and actual reporting. The investigation underscores the urgent need for transparency, accountability, and the enforcement of reporting laws.
Citizens Defending Freedom emphasizes the need to hold educators accountable for their actions, addressing existing abuses, and preventing the retention of prospective employment in other school districts. The organization encourages parents, educators, and institutions to access additional resources on their website and reach out to local CDF chapters for support in matters related to educator misconduct.
About Citizens Defending Freedom:
Citizens Defending Freedom USA Foundation, Inc. (CDF) is a nonprofit educational organization that is exempt from federal taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Its principal purpose is public advocacy.
Although Citizens Defending Freedom may occasionally receive designated contributions to support specific projects, it does not solicit or accept contributions designated to support or oppose candidates for public office.
CDF is an organization that provides the tools and support needed to empower citizens to defend their freedom and liberty, and place local government back into the hands of the people. We work to educate and engage citizens at the local level to ensure laws are followed and to uncover possible education-related misconduct with the goal of strengthening parental rights and student safety for future generations. Click here to learn more about Citizens Defending Freedom. CDF can provide further information and interviews upon request.