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Senate Focuses on Protecting Students and Strengthening Schools

February 23, 2017

AUSTIN – Today, the Senate Committee on Education chaired by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) heard initial testimony on Senate Bill 7 and Senate Bill 653 aimed at putting an end to inappropriate teacher-student relationships. If passed, the laws would expand reporting requirements for school administrators, hold superintendents and principals personally liable for failure to report these crimes, and establish a continuing education program intended to prevent, identify and report inappropriate relationships.

“Instances of inappropriate teacher-student relationships have risen 43% in the last fiscal year as of January 31st, 2017 according to the Texas Education Agency and now Texas leads the nation in these reports,” said Senate Bill 7 author and Senate Republican Caucus Chair Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston). “It is time to crack down on these child predators posing as educators. It is time to ensure our children have the safe school environment they deserve.”

“For far too long educators accused of sexual misconduct with a minor have been allowed to resign to avoid potential legal battles and are then able to find employment in other school districts. Senate Bill 7 provides the accountability measures that will end this behavior,” Bettencourt added.

“Crimes against children are an incomparable kind of evil. Through this priority legislation Texas must be clear and emphatic: predatory teachers must be reported, thoroughly investigated, and kept far away from our children. These teachers should be removed from the profession and prosecuted — not allowed to quietly slip away to other schools turning otherwise happy and carefree children into new victims,” stated Senate Bill 653 author and Senate Republican Caucus Treasurer Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano).

“As a mother, I’m appalled that this trend has been on the rise in Texas,” Education Committee Member Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) added. “I’m proud to stand alongside my colleagues to protect our children and help put parents’ minds at ease.”

The Senate Committee on Education is expected to vote on Senate Bill 7 and Senate Bill 653 next week.

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Texas Senate Republican Caucus Chair Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) accepted the Faith in Action Award from the Texas Pastor's Council on behalf of Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) for her work in the 85th Legislative Session.

Watch the video below and read the letter from Senator Kolkhorst here: bit.ly/2tynO1V
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