State supt. reacts to cases of inappropriate teacher-student rel - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

State supt. reacts to cases of inappropriate teacher-student relationships

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

At least 10 teachers in Alabama have been accused of inappropriate relationships with students over the last three years, many resulting in formal rape and sodomy charges and convictions.

Most recently Stanhope Elmore High School teacher Jeffrey Stanton appeared in court Tuesday on a rape charge. It was a bombshell for the Millbrook community that many say they never saw coming.

On Wednesday, the State Board of Education voted to take over the Selma City School System after an investigation ignited in part by a teacher's inappropriate relationship with a student.

Latanglia Williams was indicted on charges of electronic solicitation of a child, school employee sexual contact and enticing a child. She is currently on unpaid administrative leave.

State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice says it's something the State Department of Education doesn't take lightly.

"We are working very closely with law enforcement because this is a criminal act. There would also be revocation implications for their teaching certificates so they would never have the chance to be with children again," Bice said.

Bice says inappropriate student-teacher relationships are the exception, not the rule -- accounting for less than six of the 40,000 educators in the state's public school system.

"We do background checks, but we don't have a test for stupid. That's what we are dealing with here," Bice said.

Based on national statistics, there may be more cases of teacher sexual misconduct. Some simply go unreported.

Child Protect Family Advocate Cristie De la Vega says children and teens are typically late reporters of child sex abuse.

"A lot of kids are embarrassed about what happened. They are shameful, they blame themselves, a lot of times they are afraid of the perpetrator," De la Vega said.

De la Vega says teens are much more hesitant to make the call than younger children, specifically those 12 and older.

"They are especially concerned about their peers. They wonder if anyone in their class is going to find out, 'are they going to know I'm in counseling?' There's a stigma that goes along with the things they are really concerned with," De la Vega said.

Stanton's case is schedule to before an Elmore County grand jury in April.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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