In the old days, kids went to school and were taught reading, writing and arithmetic. Today? Well that’s a bit of a different story.
In Round Rock, Texas, a teacher has been arrested in conjunction with an alleged sexual assault on a minor. Randi Chaverria, 36, reportedly had an “improper relationship” with a student, according to KXAN. Ironically Chaverria was named the school district’s 2019 Secondary Teacher of the Year. Perhaps it was the male students who voted on the award.
Chaverria had already taken a leave of absence even before the school administration received the report. Once the administration was notified, they reported the allegations to the District’s Human Resources Department and to the police department. She was also banned from returning to campus pending the investigation, according to Principal Matt Groff.
On November 19, Chaverria resigned from her teaching position as a Family and Consumer Science teacher with the Round Rock Independent School District.
According to KXAN, Round Rock police investigators spoke to the student, who told them that during the fall semester, “on several occasions,” Chaverria called him and had sexual contact with him, including performing oral sex on him. The student said that the two had oral sex twice in Chaverria’s classroom.
This past week, Chaverria was charged with improper relationship between educator and student, which is a second-degree felony. She turned herself into the Williamson County Jail, where she was charged. She was released on bond later that afternoon.
“Safety is a top priority of Round Rock High School and Round Rock ISD. Ensuring a safe and secure learning environment requires partnership between students, parents, campus and district staff, as well as law enforcement.”
One of the requirements for hire in the Round Rock ISD, as it is in most educational systems nationwide, is clearance of a background check. Chaverria passed a Texas Department of Public Safety background check and several employment reference checks.
According to the Texas Education Agency, inappropriate relationships between teachers and students is on the rise.
“One explanation for the recent spike in reporting of inappropriate relationships could be because of the “Pass the Trash” state law, which was passed in 2017. This law strengthened requirements for principals and superintendents to report inappropriate relationships,” the report said.
The law was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott and was intended to crack down on inappropriate relationships between teachers and students. The law requires principals and superintendents to report inappropriate teacher-student relationships and imposes penalties of jail time or fines up to $10,000 for failure to do so. In addition, the teacher could also lose access to their pension.
The measure also mandates that a teacher lose his or her license and requires them to register as a sex offender. An investigation by WFAA prior to the law passing showed that school administrators were allowing teachers who molested students to pass from school to school—many with glowing job reviews.
In 2016, the Texas Education Agency opened over 220 investigations into such relationships.
Apparently, Texas has a problem. This week, 33-year-old Lynn Burge pleaded guilty to having sex with two teens. She will spend zero time in jail.
Burge, a former Muenster high School teacher, claimed that she was too intoxicated to remember the separate encounters involving a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old.
People Magazine confirmed that Burge pleaded guilty to two counts of improper relationship between educator and student. A third charge, online solicitation of a minor, was dismissed according to court records.
According to an arrest warrant obtained by the Gainesville Register, Burge had sex with the two high school students. During an interview at the Cooke County Child Advocacy Center, the 16-year-old student said that he and Burge had started messaging on Snapchat “in or about September or October 2017” and sent naked photos to each other on the app.
The teenager continued that he and Burge drove around the rural back roads while drinking alcohol. He said they began to kiss, then subsequently returned to her home where they had sex.
The teen fell asleep in Burge’s kids bedroom, then she woke him up and asked him to get in bed with her, according to the arrest warrant.
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Police subsequently interviewed Burge in early October. She said that she was “highly intoxicated” on both nights she was accused of having sex with the students and did not remember doing so.
She admitted that she remembered driving the back roads with the student but remembered nothing about the night until she woke up the next morning with the teen in bed with her.
According to the warrant, police asked Burge if she had sex with the student.
“I don’t know,” she answered. “I hope not. I don’t know.”
In March 2018, Burge had sex with the 18-year-old. Even though the student was 18 and of majority age, Texas state law still forbids sexual contact with a student by a teacher. The adult student admitted that he had unprotected sex with Burge, according to the warrant affidavit.
At the time of the encounters, Burge was married with two children.
According to Burge’s attorney, Rick Hagen, under the plea agreement Burge agreed to, she will serve five years of deferred adjudication probation and will pay a $5,000 fine. She was fired from her job after she was charged, and she will be required to surrender her teaching license.
Hagen said that Burge will not have to register as a sex offender.
According to him, she is “incredibly remorseful, she is ashamed.” It is not known how she was able to receive an exemption from the requirements of the Texas state law that should require her to register as a sex offender.
Hagen tried to downplay the incident, blaming it in part on alcohol.
“Alcohol was an issue in this case. While it was an issue, it was not an excuse. Lynn has not had a drop of alcohol since she was accused. She is committed to AA and has been to a counselor on a regular basis.”
According to Hagen, the families of the two teens did not want Burge to go to prison. According to Cooke County District Attorney John Warren, “after consulting with the families of the victims and receiving their input, we believe that this is a just and appropriate plea. The victims in this case will now be able to begin to put this behind them and move on with their lives.”
One can only wonder what would have happened had these cases involved male teachers and female students. Would the “punishment” have been the same?