A recent survey by one of the nation’s top education officials calls the number of inappropriate relationships between teachers and students an epidemic. Over the course of a year, a public-relations firm headed by Terry Abbott, a former Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Education, discovered over 780 cases in 2014 nationwide.
Louisiana had the third most with 23 cases per capita.
The study found that teachers are using cell phones, contacting students through text messages and social media.
Here in Acadiana, there are three active cases authorities are investigating involving this topic.
Last October, former Kaplan High band director and assistant baseball coach, Alex Hilliard, was indicted on charges of molestation of a juvenile.
Early last month, Abbeville High School Science teacher Nicholas Willis was charged with felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile.
Two weeks ago, former Comeaux High School teacher,Joshua Krieg, was arrested and booked on the same charge.
Strict policies are in place in Louisiana regarding communication between students and teachers.
“We do have a policy that is in compliance with state law which calls for appropriate school related contact between school board employees and students who are at their same school,” said Paul Hebert, Vermilion Parish Assistant Superintendent.
Technology provides 24 hour access through texting on cell phones and social media.
Hebert said one policy focuses closely on electronic communication.
“Facebook friending would be considered an electronic form of communication and it would be against our policy for that to happen since it is not of the school related nature,” said Hebert.
Hebert said any communication between teachers and students must be school related.
He said teachers should only use school provided electronics to contact students.
“It is ok for employees to contact students using school board provided methods so if the teacher uses his or her school email or school board email then all of that will be logged in our email system,” said Hebert.
There’s even a website set up for teachers to log into when contacting students through outside communication.
“If it is for legitimate school related business then we have a log in system for the employees through our website where they go in there and log who they’ve contacted and what the purpose of that contact was,” said Hebert.
Hebert said teachers are reminded of these policies at the beginning of each school year to stress how important it is to follow these rules.
Hebert said if any outside communication unrelated to school is reported, an investigation would take place and could potentially lead to the teacher’s termination.