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Bill Responds to Teacher-Student Relationship at Modesto High School

Aired 3/27/12 on KPBS News.

A new bill at the California state Capitol would make it illegal for a high school teacher to be in an inappropriate relationship with a student – even if that student is 18.

Tammie Powers, mother of 18-year-old Jordan Powers, speaks at a Capitol news conference Tuesday.  She supports a bill that would make it a felony for a high school teacher to have an inappropriate relationship with a student, regardless of the student's age.
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Above: Tammie Powers, mother of 18-year-old Jordan Powers, speaks at a Capitol news conference Tuesday. She supports a bill that would make it a felony for a high school teacher to have an inappropriate relationship with a student, regardless of the student's age.

A new bill at the California state Capitol would make it illegal for a high school teacher to be in an inappropriate relationship with a student - even if that student is 18.

Republican Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen said her measure is in response to the Modesto high school teacher who started dating one of his 18-year-old students.

"A teacher or other school employee or principal at a high school - to have a relationship with his or her student is clearly unethical," said Olsen. "It's a violation of trust and it's an abuse of power. And it should not be tolerated, regardless of a student's age."

It's already a felony for a teacher to be in a relationship with a student under 18. Olsen's bill would extend that crime to students over 18. She said that's the law in some other states. The measure would also make "inappropriate communications" a felony - for example, excessive or sexual text messages.

The Assemblywoman was joined at the Capitol Tuesday by Tammie Powers, the mother of the Modesto student who's now in a relationship with her teacher.

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