(July 23, 2019) -- A researcher and an alumna at UTSA have teamed up to document a disturbing phenomenon in Texas, the seemingly increasing number of investigations into allegations of educator misconduct that make headlines across the state.
David Thompson, a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development, and Catherine Robert ’17, Ed.D, an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), are developing a database with information about Texas certified educators who have engaged in sexual misconduct during the last two decades (1999-2019) to provide empirical data on educator sexual misconduct (ESM) that can inform education policymakers at the national and state levels.
The database includes Texas educators who had their educator certificate(s) sanctioned in some way and will include employment and certification data for the educator. This information can be used to describe and predict patterns among educator offenders in Texas.
Thompson said he and Robert focused on analyzing data from 1999 to 2019 because 1999 brought significant changes to how the Texas Educators’ Code of Ethics was enforced. Robert said this time-period also captures offenses both before and after the rise of social media use.
Robert and Thompson conducted research into Texas social media polices in 2014-2015, and they found that roughly 10% of Texas school districts did not have a social media or electronic communication policy at the time. They provided testimony to the Texas Senate Committee on Education and the Texas House of Representatives Public Education Committee between the 84th and 85th Legislature on their findings regarding social media use.
Senate Bill 7 (SB7) subsequently passed during the regular session of the 85th Texas Legislature in 2017 requiring school districts to have social media policies.
Thompson said in addition to that legislation, the State Board for Educator Certification added a standard to the Educators' Code of Ethics in 2010 that regulates social media use by Texas educators for certificate discipline purposes.
Thompson and Robert have conducted extensive research about ESM in Texas. Their work began five years ago and is a multiphase effort that encompasses collecting ESM data and measuring the changing definition and nature of ESM in addition to considering issues inherent in creating a database using aging data from multiple resources.
Out of a sample of 1,241 cases in which discipline and employment data were collected, the researchers noted some big takeaways:
The data shows what an offending educator’s teaching assignment was during the year that the offense occurred for which the educator ultimately received a certificate sanction.
Robert said another notable finding is that 36% of sanctioned teachers were in their first year of teaching in the school district in which they were sanctioned. This speaks to the importance of scrutinizing candidates applying to be teachers.
“For experienced teachers moving school districts, why are they leaving their current positions? For new teachers, training regarding appropriate educator-student boundaries is critically important. Close supervision of new hires can hopefully prevent more offenses,” explained Robert.
Thompson added, “Accurate data can ideally prevent the phenomenon by providing descriptive and predictive information; this research has implications for school district employment practices and educator professional development."
The UTSA database will be used for research purposes and to inform policy, and will not be made public. The researchers plan to request data annually to update their database and to develop instructional materials on educator ethics, educator sexual misconduct, and educator professional standards for educator preparation programs across Texas.
Thompson and Robert recently received a $301,000 grant from the Texas Office of the Governor for the project, titled Educator Sexual Misconduct in Texas: Research, Instruction, Prevention.
The two researchers are working alongside Alejandra Gonzalez-Mejia, Ph.D., a graduate research assistant and M.Ed. candidate in the UTSA Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Brandon Tate, a Ph.D. candidate in the UTSA Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and Manisha Vaswani, a Ph.D. candidate in the UTA College of Business.
Learn more about the UTSA College of Education and Human Development.
Celebrate UTSA’s 50th Anniversary and share social media posts about the 50th using the hashtag #UTSA50.
Join us to kickoff the spring semester! We will have events happening all week and please participate in all that you can. Learn about upcoming opportunities within your academic department in virtual sessions with faculty, alumni, and student organizations. This is a great way to get involved in the UTSA COE/CACP community.Virtual Event
The Adobe Creative Campus Kickoff will introduce students to Adobe software and how they can use it to produce professional content for their courses. Students will learn about UTSA’s Adobe Creative Campus program and how they can access the software. Time permitting, there will be an overview of Adobe Creative Cloud.Virtual Event
Want to study abroad but aren't sure where to start? Our Study Abroad Information Session is a great way to hear about the options available to those interested in pursuing a global academic experience! Here you can learn about program types, scholarships, and other essential information!Virtual Event
Tune in to learn about the best picks for having an easy and fun digital Spring. We will be introducing you to the new Blackboard experience and showing you how to access essential digital tools that are free! In this session, you’ll find resources that are UTSA exclusive.Virtual Event
Zoom is now available to all UTSA faculty, staff and students as part of the newly acquired university site license! Join us as we review the features best practices for using this software for education and think about the best way to use it to work with fellow students, provide opportunities for student organizations, and more.Virtual Event
The COE/CACP Student Success Center will help build your resume of experiences outside the classroom. Join us to learn about what we do, upcoming events, and how to get involved in the colleges.Virtual Event
Meet with Writing Center tutors to learn how we can help you with every stage of the writing process for your writing projects. Then learn about how to communicate a message effectively using Adobe Spark. Some of your creations will be featured on our Writing Center social media platforms!Virtual Event
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.