When discussing America’s educators with reporters from WNCN, State Superintendent June Atkinson maintained, “99 percent-plus of our teachers behave in a very ethical manner.” That number may be true, but the small percentage of teachers that do taken advantage of their position of trust can cause big problems.
Across the state, lawmakers, advocates, and parents alike are speaking out against sexual misconduct between teachers and students. According to reports from Stop Educator Sexual Misconduct, one in 10 students is affected by sexual misconduct from their teacher between kindergarten and the 12th grade—roughly five million kids in the US today.
The problem is particularly prevalent in North Carolina, where teachers have been charged with engaging in sexual misconduct with students more than 700 times within the last five years. According to records from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, more than 800 teachers lost their license to teach in the last 10 years alone. Of those 800, more than half lost their license due to sexual misconduct with students.
In order to combat the growing problem in North Carolina schools, many schools are enforcing strict policies that restrict the way teachers and students can interact on social media accounts. Schools are also encouraging parents to speak to their kids about sexual misconduct, and remain vigilant for red flags.
North Carolina lawmakers are also doing their part to fight sexual misconduct in schools. The state is creating an online database of educators whose license has been denied or suspended so other schools can access this information before making hiring decisions.
But perhaps the most significant change is still to come. This last month, the General Assembly approved a bill that calls for tougher penalties for sex crimes in North Carolina schools. Under the Protect Our Students Act, school employees would face a felony if they are found guilty of engaging in sexual misconduct with a student. The law applies to teachers, substitute teachers, bus drivers, and custodians of any age, whereas before, such personnel would face a misdemeanor if they were less than four years older than the victim.
The bill is now on its way to the governor’s desk for signing.
If You Are Accused of Sexual Misconduct
Ensuring the health and safety of young children should be a top priority for school districts and lawmakers alike. However, as school and law enforcement officials crack down on sexual misconduct in schools, it’s possible for innocent teachers to be caught in the crossfire.
If you are an educator or school employee who has been accused, arrested, or charged with sexual misconduct with a student, you must act quickly and carefully if you want to avoid serious repercussions. Even if the new felony bill is not approved, the penalties for sex crimes are some of the toughest around. Not only may you face prison time, but you may lose your teaching license and find it impossible to obtain another job. And you’ll almost definitely have to register as a sex offender.
A conviction for sexual misconduct with a minor comes with life-altering consequences. That’s why it’s imperative to contact a North Carolina sex crimes defense attorney after being charged with any type of sex offense. Your attorney will listen to your story with compassion and without judgement, before helping you develop a powerful strategy for defense. With a skilled attorney’s help, you may be able to avoid devastating consequences to your freedom, career, and reputation.
About the Author
Attorney Mike Schlosser represents victims of personal injury, those charged with a crime, as well as those facing traffic charges. A former Guilford County, North Carolina District Attorney, Schlosser has been in private practice at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett since 1983 and has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 1973.