MCALLEN, Texas – The Texas Education Agency (TEA) saw a 65 percent increase in cases of misconduct opened on certified educators in the last five years. Schools across the state now have an extra tool alerting them of educators crossing the line with students.
For the first time, schools statewide can find teachers who are under investigation or have a criminal history, all in one place; in the Do Not Hire Registry.
Melissa Ramirez, Region One – Human Resources Director, “It is a database that districts and charter schools are going to have access to. It is designed to help us ensure that the people we’re hiring are eligible to work with our students. It’s for their safety.”
Recently, a Brownsville ISD coach was arrested on assault charges. In September a Donna ISD teacher’s assistant was arrested for allegedly having an improper relationship with a student. The same scenario reportedly happened in the Santa Rosa ISD with two educators.
However, with the new database, educators accused of misconduct won’t be eligible for hire.
“It’s going to become part of our hiring process now, just like we fingerprint people to make sure that they don’t have a criminal history background, this is the same concept but it’s just a different resource for us to use. It’s not an option, it’s a requirement.” says Ramirez.
House Bill 3, aiming to protect the safety and welfare of students, passed in the last legislative session.
Ramirez adds, “For the safety of our students. First and foremost we want to make sure that the people that are working, interacting, and mingling with our children, should be interacting with our children.”
For now the registry is only available to schools. Beginning in April the public will also have access. Schools will also use the database to terminate current employees whether they’re teachers or other staff who are added to the registry.