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State association doesn't support resolution
Language not strong enough in Limestone's proposal making sexual relationships between staff and students a crime

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — The Alabama Association of School Boards failed to support a resolution a local board is proposing that would make sexual relationships between school staff and students a crime, no matter the student's age.

Limestone Board of Education member Earl Glaze said it wasn't that the board lobby group is against the idea, but that its members wanted stronger language.

"And some thought a resolution should specify an age," Glaze said. "I don't think it should specify an age. I think it's wrong no matter what the age of the student."

Glaze said the association, Limestone board and Limestone Superintendent Barry Carroll are looking into legislation that the late Rep. Albert Hall, D-Gurley, introduced two years ago. Hall died in November.

"We were told that legislation did not specify an age but that it's been held up in committee," Glaze said. "We want to get a copy of it and study it. We still want to pursue this."

A week ago, the Limestone board passed a resolution suggested by Carroll that asks state education associations and the local Legislative delegation to support a state law change regarding sexual relationships with staff and students.

Last month, a counselor's assistant at Elkmont High School resigned after football players alleged they had sexual relationships with her. Carroll said the woman 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 did 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.

Sen. Tom Butler, D-Madison, said he supports Limestone's proposal, although he does not know whether it should involve raising the age of consent or "what format it should take."

"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," said Butler, who represents Limestone County.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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