(CBS) LOS ANGELES - A California lawmaker says any high school teacher who engages in a romantic relationship with a student should face a felony charge, even if the student is legally an adult.
The proposal by Rep. Kristin Olsen would strip teachers of their pensions and retiree health care in addition to outlawing any dating situations regardless of age, CBS Los Angeles reported.
Olsen said the bill is part of a package of proposals in response to
allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct at Miramonte Elementary and
other schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Known also as the Safe Student Act, the measure would make it a felony for a public school employee to begin a sexual relationship or to have excessive or inappropriate communication with a student of any age.
Olsen said she was shocked after learning that teacher 41-year-old Modesto teacher James Hooker left his wife and children to move in with 18-year-old student Jordan Powers earlier this year - and even more startled to learn that there was no law on the books prohibiting such a relationship in California, CBS Los Angeles reported.
The two later insisted their relationship did not become sexual until Powers turned 18.
"Clearly teachers, principals, or other school employees at a school are in a position of influence and authority over their students, and it's a violation of trust and a clear abuse of power to take advantage of that position and engage in a romantic relationship with a student," said Olsen.