Texas Teachers May Be Able to See Kids Criminal Records Soon
HOUSTON - Teachers across Texas may soon have a new weapon in the classroom.
A bill on Governor Rick Perry's desk could arm teachers with the detailed criminal history of their students by unsealing juvenile records.
The so-called "Teacher Protection Bill" has been flying under the radar.
It's driven by the killing of a teacher in Tyler a couple of years ago. A 16-year-old student stabbed special education teacher Todd Henry to death. Turns out the student had a criminal past.
Juveniles' criminal histories have always been protected under state law.
In Texas, thousands of children have passed through the juvenile justice system and re-entered public schools, many after being found delinquent of violent crimes.
"I've seen the list of things our kids are on probation for, things like aggravated sexual assault,” Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, said. “That's not a child I want a teacher not knowing about."
Fallon says teachers aren't finding out about violent students until it's too late.
"We've had some teachers injured because they confront the wrong student,” she said. “You don't expect a student to physically assault you but it happens."
A new law would require law enforcement to provide teachers with a detailed account of the crimes committed by parolees. Teachers would also get written notice of student arrests.
Current law allows schools to use discretion when notifying teachers.
"The civil libertarian in me says you're going too far here in invading these children's rights," FOX 26 legal analyst Chris Tritico said.
The law is setting up a showdown between juvenile justice advocates and teacher unions.
"The problem comes when we start giving notice of an arrest. Now every time a child has any accusation, he hasn't even been found guilty or to be a delinquent,” Tritico said. “Now we're telling all teachers and superintendents that this guy is a criminal and going through the process."
Fallon argues teachers need to be made aware of who is in their classroom.
"If you tell me someone has been convicted of an assault, I'm going to be very cautious being around that person without other adults around."
A representative for Perry says he is "thoughtfully" reviewing the measure before deciding whether to sign it.
Read more: http://www.myfoxhouston.com/dpp/news...#ixzz1PGQtjtYX
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