Date a student, lose pension?

March 27, 2012

Dean Smith

Teachers who get involved in relationships with high school students, even those 18 and over, would be stripped of their retirement benefits if a bill introduced by a Modesto lawmaker succeeds. [SacramentoBee]

Republican Assemblywoman Kristen Olsen introduced the legislation after learning of a 41-year-old teacher, James Hooker, who moved in with an 18-year-old woman who had been his student. Olsen called it “appalling” that current law provides no recourse against teachers who cultivate love relationships with students.

“My point is, whether you’re 18, 17 or 14, the fact remains that a teacher is in a position of authority and influence over that student, and therefore, it is highly inappropriate,” said Olsen. Her bill is expected to debut next week.

In 2010, San Miquel Superintendent Dean Smith agreed to resign rather than face termination for an inappropriate relationship with a former student who had his child not long after turning 18-years-old. An investigation discovered  that Smith had utilized his position as an administrator to develop a relationship with a former student. The couple left the area after Smith’s resignation.

Pension and other retirement benefits could be stripped from a teacher following an administrative process, said Olsen. She said she is considering felony sanctions in cases where teachers romance students, even if the student has reached the age of 18.

She called her bill “a pretty strong and painful deterrent.”


15 Comments

  1. Vallybear says:

    It seems that most of the republicans have their heads in everybody’s bedrooms this year. they are obsessed with sexual matters and this is just the latest.
    Why is a young woman 18 years of age allowed to vote and join the services to go to war and kill,kill? but not to be allowed to have a lover? Regardless of his/her occupation?
    Maybe all republicans are sexually frustrated and they want everybody else to be, too????

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

  2. Disgusted says:

    Okay, I must be missing something here. I know Smith claimed no intimacy until after the girl turned 18. Now I read here that she had his child shortly after turning 18. Doesn’t that equate to statutory rape, depending on the definition of “not long after turning 18?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    • gratefulamerican says:

      I believe the student was 19 when she had the baby. Not saying that makes the relationship any less wrong…or the “ewwwww” factor any better. But I am reasonably sure she was 19 when she gave birth. And, oh how the mighty have fallen. He went from being a well respected man to hawking used cars. No offense to the honest used-car dealers out there-just illustrating how his life changed when he chose to be a creep.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

      • Disgusted says:

        Thanks Grateful. I was hoping he didn’t get away with even more than seems evident. It does look like his reputation follows him. I guess that’s as good as it will get.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. jeffsrant says:

    Nice try wrong approach. I agree that we need to protect school children from predatory teachers, coaches, strangers whomever. But it is not only school children, there are public official in both parties who have used their position to take advantage of those who see them in positions of influence, confidence or control, remember Monica. And it’s not just public figures, business leaders, sports ‘stars’, and entertainers with lots of money or public influence use it to take advantage of those weaker in position or attitude. Use the laws criminal and civil already on the books to take care of those instances. If more protections are needed then put them in place but don’t single out one group, make it apply to all. I am so sick of the political elite making laws and rules that they don’t have to follow.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  4. rogerfreberg says:

    There are many ways to view this situation… but the most compelling is the fact that students… especially those that are minors can be unduly influenced by teachers and coaches.

    Have we all forgotten some of the past high school teachers and student relationships that have popped up in the news. Not only it is not fair to the young person, but if she is on an athletic treatment… well, I am sure her playing time and treatment is better than she deserves. This is unfair to her teammates on many levels.

    Penalties need to be severe to offer a significant deterrent …

    BTW, things like this do not happen without a whole lot of folks looking the other way. I remember one administrator saying,’ I won’t sacrifice a winning coach because of a few girls.’ In another case, I think the head coach, athletic director and principal should have lost their jobs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  5. SLORider says:

    It’s an appealing sentiment, but completely unconstitutional and won’t happen or will be overturned. Depriving property and all that. Actually it’s a very dangerous precedent that I oppose.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 9

  6. Ted Slanders says:

    In this case, why are we not surprised that it’s another Republican wanting to control the bedroom once again?! The hell with the Republican mantra of “limited government!” Controlling women’s health by the Conservatives isn’t enough lately, now they want to control who you go out with and your relationships as well!

    Tell me, why would this hell bound woman named Kristen Olsen even proffer the age groups of 13 to 17 relative to her proposed bill? Huh? Does she realize in what this age group represents and the ramifications thereof?

    Since it seems there is no cut off age group, then what if you went back to school later on in life, and the teacher and you were close together in age and you hit it off together? Because of this Jello-Headed woman’s proposed bill, you’re not to date the teacher if the both of you, AS ADULTS, want to go out with each other?

    Uh, we have more serious problems Mz Kristin than what you propose in your comical bill, because remember your parties 2010 mantra of creating JOBS? Stop trying to sexually control the populace, and start creating jobs! What a maroon!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 14

  7. jimmy_me says:

    Why have a law aimed at teachers only? Why not all public officials? Maybe to be fair to everyone, this guy should get the Paso-Payout thang as well as a congrats for the great job he’s done.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

    • thinkaboutit says:

      Job well done? Jimmy, did you not read the headline?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

    • JackR says:

      Why stop with public officials?

      If a priest molests a child, the church loses tax-exemptions.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  8. Bob says:

    We also need a law that strips any current or retired public official or employee of their public pension if they are convicted of any felony. Additionally if convicted of any misdemeanor, their public pension should be suspended during any period of jail time or probation.

    Most importantly. We need a law that prohibits a public official or employee from obtaining a public pension by early retirement or resigning during any period of administrative, criminal or disciplinary leave pending the outcome of any investigation or pending charges.

    We need more reform such as eliminating lifetime public pensions by limiting the length of a public pension to not exceed the years of public service. IE: 25 years of public service equals a public pension not to exceed 25 years. We also need to restore public pensions back to the previous standard of 2% for every year of public service with a maximum of a 50% public pension.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 27 Thumb down 20

    • OnTheOtherHand says:

      Given the plethora of laws making so many things illegal, I am inclined to disagree with you — slightly. I would certainly agree that convictions for illegal activities done during the course of public employment should be punished more severely and that the “early retirement” dodge for accountability should end. But, I have a problem with someone facing serious consequences for, say, “urination in public” because there was no appropriate facility available or smoking pot or “creating a public nuisance” from an otherwise peaceful public protest.

      And, yes, the pension system for public employees needs to be scaled back to reflect the reality of our times. But, we should start at the top with State Department Heads, University Presidents and even City Managers, before we hit the teachers or Caltrans workers.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. bobfromsanluis says:

    Does anyone else find this proposal kind of ironic since it is usually Republicans who spout off that “we have too many laws”, but in this instance, this particular proposed law makes perfect sense? Sure, morally we all “know” that teachers should not interact with students in any sort of romantic manner, and even if they wait until the student graduates or leaves school it still “seems” wrong (because deep down we know that it is), but until we have a law with some teeth in it, there is nothing to stop predatory teachers from engaging in behavior like this, even if they are clever enough to wait until the student is out of school.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 14

    • thinkaboutit says:

      Bob, I think that the case of “too many laws” has more to do with existing laws that are now already being enforced. In this case, I agree with Olsen’s “pretty strong and painful deterrent” in protecting our young adults. Yeah, it’s a pity to add even more statutes to the Penal Code, but it’s no wonder that pedophile behavior would necessitate such finessing of the law.

      Dean Smith’s example warrants this. His behavior was so insidious, so deceitful on many levels…that, for many parents, all faith has been lost in the trust and integrity of our educators. This is almost as tragic as the crimes themselves.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5

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