A California lawmaker has introduced legislation that would make it a felony for a teacher at a public K-12 school to have a romantic relationship with a student at the same school, no matter how old the student is, MSNBC reported. Currently in California, it’s only a crime if a teacher romances a student who is under 18 years old.
Bill 1861, introduced by Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, a Republican from Modesto, would also take away the pension of any teacher convicted of a work-related felony, MSNBC reported.
"It is an outrage that a high school teacher would engage in a romantic relationship with a student," Olsen said in a statement today. "We need to do everything we can to deter this behavior, and to ensure schools are a safe and secure learning environment for our children."
A teacher at Enochs High School in Olsen’s district resigned his job last month after it became known he was dating a student at the school, the Boston Herald reported.
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James Hooker, 41, left his wife, and he and senior Jordan Powers, 18, are now living together, according to the Boston Herald.
Powers’ mother, Tammie Powers, joined Olsen at a press conference in Sacramento today to announce the legislation. "I believe this bill will serve as a deterrent, as a preventative measure," said Tammie Powers, said at the press conference, according to the Boston Herald. "As parents, we send our children to school with the expectation that they’re going to be safe, they’re going to receive a good education. Not that they’re going to be pursued."
According to MSNBC:
Hooker and Powers have defended their relationship, appearing on national talk shows to claim their romance did not turn sexual until Powers was of age. Hooker met Powers during her freshman year at Enochs High School.
Olsen’s bill would punish teachers who begin a sexual relationship or have "excess and inappropriate communication" with students of any age, the Boston Herald reported.
Olsen said 23 other states have set similar penalties for teachers who start relationships with students, the Boston Herald reported.
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