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Limestone resolution urges law on student-worker relationships

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

OWENS — Limestone County school officials want to change state law to protect students from sexual relationships with employees.

When the Board of Education met Monday at Owens Elementary School, the board unanimously approved a resolution from Superintendent Barry Carroll asking for statewide support of a change.

Board member Earl Glaze will present the resolution to the Alabama Association of School Boards in a meeting Thursday night.

Last month, a counselor's assistant at Elkmont High School resigned after football players alleged they had sexual relationships with her. Carroll said Jeana Boyd denied the allegations but chose to resign. Because she resigned and the students were 16 or older, the age of consent in Alabama, the school system's investigation ended and the Sheriff's Department could not press charges.

Any school employee who resigns before the school system takes action can seek employment elsewhere without the allegations being on his or her record. Carroll said the law should not set an age limit, and employees who break it should face criminal and professional consequences.

The resolution also asks the state superintendent of education's office, the School Superintendents of Alabama, State Department of Education and local legislative delegation to support the change.

"An employee has authority over students, and we don't want students to be taken advantage of," Carroll said

Sen. Tom Butler, D-Madison, said he supports the proposal.

"It's something I think parents want us to do," Butler said. "I don't know what all the legal ramifications are, whether we should raise the age of consent or what format it should take."

Butler said the relationship between public-school students and employees should never cross the line to personal.

"You don't want to put any kid in a situation where they feel in a predatory environment," Butler said. "We'll work with the association (AASB) and our attorneys to see what we need to do, and we'll probably visit with the attorney general on this issue."

Newly elected Rep. Henry White, D-Athens, who also is principal at Reid Elementary in Limestone County, said allegations and incidents of sexual contact with employees and students aren't unique to Limestone.

"If you're in a position of authority, you don't need to cross that line," White said. "People put their trust in us with their kids, and I think it's something we need to look at."

Carroll said state officials and the associations have spoken positively to him about a law change. He said states like Texas and Connecticut have similar laws.

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