Last May, two Miami-Dade public school employees resigned amid investigations into allegations that they had engaged in inappropriate relationships with female students.
Alex Osuna, then 34, a marine science teacher and girl’s lacrosse team coach at Miami Palmetto Senior High, and Darryl Ward, then 49, a security guard at Coral Reef Senior High and a part-time coach for the school’s football and track and field teams, quit their jobs within a day of each other.
The Miami-Dade Schools police investigated the allegations and referred the cases to the State Attorney’s Office. But because the students in question were 18, no charges were filed. The alleged relationships weren’t illegal. That could soon change.
A proposal under consideration in the Legislature would make it a second-degree felony for teachers and other school employees to have romantic relationships with students, regardless of the student’s age. The bills would prohibit any adult working or volunteering at a school from soliciting or engaging in sexual conduct, lewd conduct or a romantic relationship with a student.
“If it’s a student and it’s a teacher, or any other personnel, employee of the district, then that is a relationship that is off-limits and unacceptable,” said Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, who sponsored one of the bills.
Proponents say the proposed law would close loopholes that have allowed teachers to prey on high school students, something they argue is an abuse of power even if the student is legally an adult.
Read more at our news partner, the Miami Herald.