LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A California lawmaker wants to ensure any high school teacher who engages in a romantic relationship with a student would face a felony charge even if the student is legally an adult.
KNX 1070’s Ron Kilgore reports the legislation stems from a romance between a 41-year-old Modesto teacher and his 18-year-old student.
Assembly Bill 1861, which was introduced by Rep. Kristin Olsen, would strip teachers of their pensions and retiree health care in addition to outlawing any dating situations regardless of age.
Known also as the Safe Student Act, the bill would make it a felony for a public school employee who begins an sexual relationship or who has excessive or inappropriate communication with a student of any age.
Olsen said she was shocked after learning that teacher James Hooker left his wife and children to move in with student Jordan Powers earlier this year — and even more startled to learn that there was no law on the books prohibiting such a relationship in California.
The two later insisted their relationship did not become sexual until Powers turned 18 years of age.
“Clearly teachers, principals, or other school employees at a school are in a position of influence and authority over their students, and it’s a violation of trust and a clear abuse of power to take advantage of that position and engage in a romantic relationship with a student,” said Olsen.
She said the bill is part of a package of proposals in response to allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct at Miramonte Elementary and other schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.