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Educator Sexual Misconduct

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It happened again on Monday. An Ohio football coach was arrested for raping an 11-year-old student and a Pennsylvania teacher was charged with setting up an intimate meeting with young boys.

Sexual misconduct in schools seems to be everywhere in the news these days, but Sam Houston State is taking a proactive approach in addressing the problem with future educators.

The Department of Education says nearly seven percent of students nationwide experience unwanted sexual contact from an educator. Most notable is Mary Kay Letourneau, the teacher sentenced to seven years in prison for having an affair with a student. More recently, teacher Debra Lafave and basketball coach Pamela Turner were both charged with sexual misconduct involving students.

Currently, most educators don't get specific training in sexual misconduct. While the department of education wants to change that, Sam Houston State's College of Education is moving forward on its own and tackling this tough issue through its educator preparation program.

"That's actually part of our program. We address characteristics of a good teacher. Doing the right things and displaying ethical behavior. It is addressed by our instructors in classroom management and it is addressed in student teaching. This is an important issue," said Dr. Brian Miller, Field Experiences Director for Sam Houston State's College of Education.

School administrators say they take teacher misconduct very seriously, but say it would be impractical to implement a program for that specific type of behavior.

"While there seems to be a large number of those cases, when we look at the percentage of those compared to the whole across the state there is a minimal number, but it does occur and that fact that there is one incident, in my mind, it's far to many," College Station schools Superintendent, Dr. Steve Johnson.

Undergraduate and graduate programs in Sam Houston's education program offer ethic classes that talk about sexual misconduct by educators.

" We tell them to keep an appropriate professional business relationship and they can put their career at risk if they don't keep that in mind. We're raising the bar of expectations of our students and they're going to respond to it. It's an issue that we don't skirt," said Dr. Miller.

We spoke with the department head of teaching, learning and culture at Texas A&M, Dr. Dennie Smith, and he believes the media is sensationalizing this issue. He says it is not part of the curriculum at A&M and is not certain if professors are even addressing it.