A North Texas special education teacher at an all-boys middle school was indicted by a Dallas grand jury on Wednesday following allegations she inappropriately hooked up with an eighth grade male student, exchanged sexually explicit text messages, solicited sex, and kissed the boy.
In March, Grand Prairie police arrested Rebecca Goerdel, 28, after an investigation revealed the second year special education teacher at the Young Men’s Leadership Academy at Kennedy Middle School behaved inappropriately with an eighth-grader during the 2016-17 academic year.
Breitbart Texas reported that Grand Prairie Independent School District officials learned of her alleged improper attachment to the boy after school dismissal on March 10. They placed Goerdel on administrative leave immediately. Local law enforcement then launched a probe which resulted in her arrest.
Grand Prairie police found sexually explicit text messages between Goerdel and the underage boy, some which were from “third party apps that have seen been deleted,” according to WFAA. On March 11, a detective texted Goerdel from the boy’s phone. Believing it was the boy, she responded by asking him to spend the night with her. An arrest warrant also alleged that Goerdel acted inappropriately by sitting on the boy’s lap in her car “and they made out” but she said they never had sex. The improper sexual relationship purportedly began in January when Goerdel sent a nude photo of herself in a tanning bed to the minor and asked him to sketch a picture of her.
On March 24, Grand Prairie ISD Superintendent Susan Hull said in a statement: “This kind of conduct is outrageous and will not be tolerated.” She continued: “The teacher-student relationship is sacred. It reflects a vow from teachers to parents that their children are safe – as safe as they would be at home. When a teacher in Grand Prairie ISD breaks that vow, he or she will be dealt with quickly and aggressively. I encourage law enforcement to pursue all available action.”
After the grand jury handed down this week’s indictment, Grand Prairie ISD officials released a similar statement to the one they issued in March. This time, though, the school district added they were “pleased that law enforcement has doggedly pursued this matter and that Goerdel is being held responsible for her conduct.”
On September 1, the state implemented Senate Bill 7, the new deterrent law aimed at curbing incidences of inappropriate teacher and student sexual misconduct, although it applies to all education professionals who wantonly engage with students, a problem which has escalated in Texas public schools over the past eight years.
SB 7 mandates that educators attend ongoing professional development classes that reinforce appropriate boundaries, relationships, and communications with students. Since many of these illicit relationships start over social media, spiraling off into lewd text messaging and sexual activity, the law requires that school districts adopt written policies defining appropriate electronic communications among campus faculty, staff members, and students. Additionally, school administrators such as principals, directors, and superintendents can no longer shield wayward colleagues or fail to report incidences of these improper relationships, or they risk facing jail time and fines ranging from $500 to $10,0oo.
In the coming weeks, the TEA will release its 12-month figures for teacher-student sexual misconduct cases they investigated in the last school year. Recently, Breitbart Texas received preliminary 11-month numbers from the agency reflecting 282 opened cases between September 1, 2016, and July 31, 2017. Already, this finding eclipses the 222 cases the TEA opened during the entire 2015-16 academic year.
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