South Carolina teachers who have sex with students 16 and older could be sent to prison for up to five years, under a bill that won initial approval from state lawmakers.
The Senate bill approved on March 4 in a judiciary subcommittee makes it a felony for school employees in supervisory roles to have sex with those teenage students. Currently, teenagers can consent at 16.
School workers who have sex with students who are 16 or 17 without coercion or force would be sent to prison for five years. With an 18-year-old student, the employee would face a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.
State schools Superintendent Jim Rex has pushed for tougher penalties against school employees who sexually abuse students. He says it rarely happens, but any instance is an outrage.
A version of this article appeared in the March 11, 2009 edition of Education Week