By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
A Vandegrift High School football and basketball coach and teacher resigned last week after allegations surfaced of him having an improper relationship with a female student.
“He has resigned and is no longer employed by LISD,” said Veronica Sopher, Leander ISD spokesperson.
Sopher said the faculty member had been with the district since 2010 and was placed on paid administrative leave on Dec. 9. By late last week, he resigned and is not working for LISD anymore.
The Travis County Constable Precinct 2 is investigating the allegations and as of this week, the case is still pending, said Sgt. Daniel Johnson.
The allegations involve the former Vandegrift teacher, who has not yet been charged, and a female, who is currently not a student at Vandegrift.
Sopher confirmed the student is not enrolled in the Leander school district.
On Wednesday, the VHS coach and teacher was escorted off of the campus by authorities during first period, according to a source who wants to remain anonymous.
The source told Four Points News that the student involved in the case is home-schooled and was at one point a VHS student, and that “she posted his text messages on Twitter (Tuesday) and then deleted them.”
The investigation is ongoing and may take weeks or months to finalize, Johnson said.
Local school district superintendents are statutorily required to report such incidences to Texas Education Agency and local law enforcement agencies in cases where potential criminal charges are involved.
“Anyone reporting such an incident to local school administrators – especially students and parents – must be confident that their report will be investigated fully and impartially,” said Commissioner of Education Michael Williams.
The Texas Education Agency investigates reports of inappropriate educator-student relationships. The number of investigations opened by TEA staff specifically on allegations of inappropriate relationships has increased 27 percent, from 141 in 2009-10 to 179 in 2013-14.
Under the state penal code, a school district employee commits a second-degree felony if he or she engages in sexual contact with a student who is not their spouse, even if that student is 18 years of age, according to the TEA.
The Texas Educators’ Code of Ethics provides rules for standard practices and ethical conduct toward students, professional colleagues, school officials, parents and members of the community. The code specifically calls on teachers to refrain from inappropriately communicating with students through the use of social media.
Over recent years, electronic communication including cell phone, text messaging, email, instant messaging, blogging, or other social network communication has provided a private method to contact students during and after school hours.
According to TEA, parents play an essential role in helping to monitor any communication via social media directly to their child. While group communication (such as to an entire class regarding homework, changes in practice times to all athletic team members) can serve a valid purpose, direct emails, texts or instant messaging to students should be discouraged at both the school and parental level.
Many local school districts have adopted social media policies to clearly define appropriate uses of modern communication technology.
The TEA encourages students, parents, teachers, administrators, coaches and staff to play a critical role in identifying and reporting improper educator-student relationships.