Lawmakers Find Way To Keep Teachers From Preying On Students

Saturday, April 2nd 2016, 11:20 pm
By: News 9

Many teachers who prey on students move to a new school and a new victim before they are caught, but lawmakers have found a way to curb that and believe it's working. 

"Teachers and employees of districts they know it's wrong. Raping and having sex with kids is wrong. There is no gray area. There's a bright line, and teachers know it, but for some reason they feel free to cross that line,” state Sen. Kyle Loveless said. 

News 9 has covered countless cases.

The line of right and wrong may be clear cut, but the boundaries between districts wasn't, meaning teachers accused of having inappropriate relations with students could jump from one school to another before they were caught and re-offend. 

"Districts weren't communicating with each other. So a teacher would basically be accused of it, and before the investigation would even get going, they would resign,” Loveless said. 

Districts weren't communicating with each other because it's a personnel issue and nothing was exchanged between schools or even with the Department of Education.

The only way anyone would find out is if the case made the news, if the person's teaching license was revoked or if charges were actually filed which in many cases was enough time for another student to be victimized.

So lawmakers came up with Senate Bill 711 and a database for schools to keep track of accusations. 

"Then another school can look at this person's name and see if this teacher has allegations against them,” Loveless said. 

It went into effect in November 2015, and in just five short months has caught more than a dozen offenders including Austin Quinton. Quinton was a PE teacher in Choctaw who was charged for having sex with a female student.

Kyle Whitmus was a music teacher in Luther. He, too, was charged for having sex with a 12-year-old girl who was his band student. 

"Hopefully with this legislation we're going to start seeing the tide turn,” Loveless said. 

In these cases, school districts were able to intervene quickly and applied for emergency orders to temporarily suspend those teacher's licenses during the investigations.