OKLAHOMA CITY - The State Department of Education released findings of the number of teachers who had their teaching certification revoked due to criminal accusations of sexual misconduct.
Senate Bill 711 states a school district superintendent must tell the State Board of Education when a teacher has been recommended for dismissal or resigned due to the basis for a criminal accusation for sexual misconduct.
OSDE and the Board have acted to proceed and suspend with hearings to revoke certifications on 11 individuals. Five others will have hearings during the State Board's April 28 meetings.
"Seeing that it’s being effective and stopping these teachers from moving on, that’s something that has definitely made it worthwhile," said Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-Mustang), who co-authored the law. "We need to be a place where when I drop my daughter off to school that she’s going to be protected and nothing’s going to happen to her."
Loveless calls the results some welcome good news during a difficult time for public education.
He hopes the bipartisan bill can be the first step in a long-term decline in incidents of sexual contact between teachers and students.
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister praised lawmakers for authoring a bill with positive effects on Oklahoma's public schools.
“I am grateful to legislators for their work on SB 711 and their foresight to proactively defend the safety of every public school student in Oklahoma. This law has paved the way for us to take swift action against the few bad actors in Oklahoma’s public school system. We must remain vigilant in our commitment to ensure the safety of every student and stand firm on our policy of zero tolerance for teacher misconduct of any kind.
In light of recent events, it is imperative we continue to do everything in our power to prevent these horrible incidents from occurring. Assuring the safety of our children is our number-one focus.”
Sen. John Sparks, the bill's primary Senate author, stated the need to remove criminals from state public schools.
“We all know that the vast majority of teachers in our public education system are professional, caring individuals who often place the needs of Oklahoma’s school children above their own. However, as recent news stories have highlighted, a limited number of bad apples are still found operating within our schools.
While these criminals are in no way reflective of the profession as a whole, I am thankful that under SB 711 the State Board now has the power to remove them as soon as possible while ensuring that they will never teach in Oklahoma ever again.”
The findings come days after a Moore High School teacher, Sandra Mayfield, was charged with allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student.
The bill was signed into law on July 1, 2015 but took effect in November.