Lawmaker Wants Teacher Files to Include All Allegations - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

8/1/2006

Lawmaker Wants Teacher Files to Include All Allegations

Pamela Rogers was the star of a schoolyard soap opera. She was a beautiful teacher accused of having an affair with an underage student. Only it wasn't a single episode. Other teachers other arrests made this storyline seem stuck in reruns.

"That could have been my child, my family. Something's got to be done," Donna Rowland, R-Murfreesboro, said.

State representative Rowland spent a year researching teacher misconduct. She said she found gaps in the system

"If a teacher or accused individual leaves in the middle of an investigation, the investigation stops and we know nothing about it," Rowland said.

She's working on several bills to change that.

First, she says all allegations against teachers and their resolution should be part of personnel files. Also, those files should stay with teachers throughout their careers.
 
"Those files should travel from one school to the next," Rowland said. "That is not happening."

Rowland said too often schools don't know about a teacher's history in another district.

Since 2000, the state board of education has revoked the licenses of 107 teachers, and 49 of them or almost half were revoked because of a sexual relationship with a minor.

"Their concern is the harm to children, so if they believe an incident is more likely to have occurred than not occurred, they'll take the license," said Rich Haglund with the Tennessee Board of Education.

Haglund said teachers may need more education about what's appropriate.

"It's troubling to think which part of ‘You cannot date students' did you not get when you were preparing to be a teacher," Haglund said.

"Get the bad teachers out of our school system. Simple as that," Rowland said.

The president of the teacher's union, Earl Wiman of the Tennessee Education Association, said anyone can make an allegation for any reason and often investigations reveal the accusation wasn't true.

Wiman said it's important to be very careful about ruining the reputation of good teachers over unproven allegations.

The state board of education said parents should look for a few warning signs. If a teacher repeatedly calls your child at home or even if you hear rumors of a relationshi, it may be innocent, but it's still worth checking out.

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