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Michael Parsons, Jessica Banet Cases Spark Conversation About Teacher-Student Relationships

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Two teachers arrested in one week, both accused of acting inappropriately with their students. In the latest case, Woodlawn High School teacher Michael Parsons is accused of showing an obscene photo of himself to a 19-year-old student. Earlier this week, Jessica Banet — a teacher at Princeton Elementary and girls’ softball coach at Haughton High School — was arrested for having a sexual relationship with a teenage softball player.

So why are we hearing so many cases like this lately? We asked Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator about that.

“The reason is not a lesser quality of educators, because we have fine educators. But what’s happened is with the social media, and everyone having phones, and cameras in phones, we have more cases that are able to be made. And the evidence is there,” Prator says. “And the more cases that are made by law enforcement, the more publicity by the media. And the more publicity by the media causes others to say, ‘Hey, you know, I can report this, and something will be done about it.’ So it’s kind of, I guess, a snowball rolling down the mountain.”

Prator says there are well-designed laws in place that apply to educators. But he says they’re complicated. In Jessica Banet’s case, she was charged with a misdemeanor, because the student is 17 years old, of legal age in Louisiana. It’s the state’s teacher-student relationship law that came into play there. Prator tells us the teachers, because of their roles as mentors, need to set the standard of what’s acceptable between them and their students.

Prator says law enforcement take these cases very seriously, and review all the information before making any arrests.  He says they understand that at times, students may become enamored with their teachers, and invent a situation that doesn’t exist.

So what advice does the sheriff have for parents and students? Find out here:

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