State education number show an increase of teacher/student sex c - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

State education number show an increase of teacher/student sex cases

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -
We're hearing more and more about sex between teachers and students. The State Department of Education is investigating a growing number of cases.  We wanted to find out how these teachers end up in your child's classroom.
Since July 2012, the state has investigated 69 cases of inappropriate student/teacher relationships. 53 of them, male, 16 female.  In Shelby County alone there are six pending cases. Something parents are finding frightening.
The number of investigations from the state legal team shows an increase. From July 2008 - 2009 there were 11 cases. Followed by 19 the next year.  The Newton Act which criminalizes certain sexual activity between teachers and students under the age of 19 went on the books in 2010. Despite that the number of cases keeps climbing. Between 2012 and 2013 there were 31 cases and just since July of last year we've had 38 cases reported.  

"Dr. Bice thinks about that and I know he does his best to make sure actions are taken," Malissa Valdes-Hubert, State Department of Education said. "And that the legal team is doing their job in being in tune to what's going on. They listen to tips, they listen to news stories, they keep themselves aware of things."

But how do they end up in class with your children in the first place? The state says any teacher hired must have a clean background check - done at the state level. That's followed by rigorous testing and interviews on the local level.  
"Checking the references, going through the processes, asking where that individual is coming from if they are transferring from another district, making those phone calls," Dr. Craig Witherspoon, Birmingham School Superintendent said of the process.

The American Federation of Teachers says despite all the checks the hiring process isn't strict enough.

"I think we have a problem in our society when it comes to that," Richard Franklin, American Federation of Teachers said. "I don't think we talk about it enough. People go through due process but in our profession it's uncalled for."

 Previously a teacher could have sex with an 18 year old student without facing serious consequences, but new laws make having sex with a student under 19 a felony. If a teacher is convicted, their license is revoked and shows up on their teaching record everywhere in the U.S.
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