by Victor Lopez
MIDLAND--With more and more student-teacher relationships making headlines, many may be wondering, why they don't know any better?
NewsWest 9 wanted to know what kind of ethics training teachers get, even before they step foot in a classroom.
When it comes to a relationship involving a teacher and a student, Region 18 officials say it's very much a question of ethics, especially since the topic is something they are made aware of, from the start of their education classes.
According to John Petree, Associate Executive Director of Region 18, "The Texas Code of Ethics for Educators is actually embedded in the training sequence that all teachers have to receive."
Region 18 serves 33 school districts from the Big Bend area to Andrews and from Coahoma to Van Horn. All it's staff are former educators and administrators themselves. Finding out a teacher has been caught in a relationship with a student is black eye for all school districts.
"We definitely empathize with them and know, no matter what the outcome, it's definitely a hard situation to navigate. A perspective teacher has to demonstrate proficiency on their exam, of which the Code of Ethics is part of, before they can become a certified teacher," Petree explained.
Depending on what they want to teach, the training could be course specific or part of other courses. These future teachers know what to expect and what's expected of them.
"There are safeguards the state has put in place, to hopefully train and prevent any inappropriate individuals from coming into the teaching profession. Of course, there is that allowance of people, taking that path after they become certified," Petree commented.
In most cases, the teacher and student are at the same school campus. What if they are in different ones? Petree tells NewsWest 9, The State Code of Ethics addresses that issue very plainly, "There is no allowance that the teacher has to be at the same school. If they are a student at any school, that teacher code of ethics kicks in. They don't have to be a teacher in their district or on their campus."
Region 18 emphasizes training from day one about boundaries between students and teachers as well as use of cell phones and social media like Facebook. Petree says, these have opened up new doors for inappropriate relationships.
"It's certainly a wake up call, anytime a issue like this arises in our community, to certainly be proactive and be reminded of what our Code of Ethics is and the serious consequences of not adhering to that Code of Ethics," Petree said.
Aside from local, legal and school district consequences, the state can dole out it's own punishment as well. A teacher brought up on charges of an inappropriate relationship with a student can have their certificate flagged, publicly reprimanded or even permanently revoked.