AUSTIN – House Bill 527, a teacher protection measure authored by State Representative Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston), would enhance the penalty for assaulting a public or private school employee. The bill was passed unanimously out of the House Public Education Committee and could soon head to the floor of the Texas House of Representatives. If passed, teachers would join the ranks of police, firefighters, first responders and elected officials who serve our communities and are afforded additional protection under the law.
HB 527 would add employees of public and private primary and secondary schools to the group of individuals for which the punishment for assault is enhanced. If someone intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to a school employee, the punishment would be increased from a Class A misdemeanor to a third degree felony.
During the hearing in the House Public Education Committee, Bohac expressed his belief that teachers deserve extra protection when it comes to violence on campus.
“Just last month, we all heard about a parent who barged into a Dallas-area seventh-grade classroom, grabbed the teacher by the hair, dragged her across the floor and pummeled her with her fist,” Bohac said during the hearing. “Why did she do this? Because the victim reprimanded her daughter for loitering in the hallway.”
“I believe that our teachers deserve the peace of mind of knowing that there are severe consequences for assaulting them while at school,” Bohac continued.
Under HB 527, the increase in punishment would apply if the employee was engaged in performing duties within the scope of employment or in retaliation for the employee’s performance of their duties. The minimum punishment for an adult upon conviction of a third degree felony is at least 2 years in jail and a fine not to exceed $10,000. The rules would be different for youth offenders, since they are handled by the Texas Youth Commission and not sent to state jail like adult offenders.
“This will send a clear message that violence against teachers and other school employees will not be tolerated,” Bohac concluded. “Teachers perform one of the most important and challenging jobs in our community, and they do not need to carry the extra burden of fearing for their safety. When faced with the certainty of going to jail, delinquent students and adults will think twice before acting out in violence against teachers.”