The Judson Independent School District (JISD) school board has voted 6-0 to terminate elementary school counselor Cynthia Stewart, who is accused of sexting a 15 year-old student, reports the San Antonio Express-News. Stewart reportedly has been charged with distributing obscene material to a minor and online solicitation of a minor.
JISD spokesperson Audrey Chancellor said Stewart was offered a chance to resign “in lieu of termination.” “Up to this point we have received no indication from her that she wants to resign,” Chancellor said. Federal authorities dismissed their case against Stewart last week and are leaving state authorities to investigate new allegations the counselor and teen might have had sexual contact.
According to a criminal complaint affidavit, the boy’s parents found that he had exchanged texts with Stewart and that she had sent 20 to 30 naked images of herself. “We have looked at her computer and any school district electronics issued to her, and have no evidence on it that would be found questionable or inappropriate,” Chancellor said.
Source: San Antonio Express-News, 12/1/11, By Maria Luisa Cesar
[Editor's Note: Concern about inappropriate teacher electronic communications with students has led some states and school districts to limit teacher contact with students via social networking sites. The measures, often restrictive, sometimes result in backlash. In October 2011 Legal Clips summarized an Associated Press article in in Education Week reporting that Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon had signed legislation repealing his state's "Facebook law." The contentious law had prohibited most online communication between teachers and students and caused a judge to warn that it infringed on free-speech rights. The new measure repealed the portion of the law that barred teachers from using websites that allow “exclusive access” with students or former pupils age 18 or younger.
In March 2011, Legal Clips summarized a Virginian-Pilot news story in the Education Week reporting that the Virginia Department of Education had backed away from specific policy recommendations limiting how teachers communicate electronically with students. VDE had considered advising teachers to avoid texting students, or interacting with them on social-networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter. However, 75% of the 79 comments it received criticized drafts of the guidelines, which were designed to prevent sexual misconduct and abuse.]