MARION, AR (abc24.com) - It's okay for teachers to have a sexual relationship with students as long as the student is 18 or older, so says the Arkansas Supreme Court.
The Justices struck down a law that carried jail time if a teacher had a sexual relationship with a student 18 or older. However the decision is not sitting well with teachers, principals or students.
Arkansas residents are afraid the birds and the bees will have a new twist in their state.
Marion High School Principal Steve Landers says, "Horrified is the correct word."
Landers calls it "criminal" that the Supreme Court took away the legal consequences for teachers who have sex with 18-year-old students. "The thing that bothers me is a teacher and student have a very distinct and unique relationship, when you involve a physical relationship that breaches that." Landers adds, "And it's morally apprehensible to me."
There is an ethics code for Arkansas teachers. If caught with a student they could loose their license. However the threat of jail time is no more. Landers says it's a huge step backwards, "Maybe losing their license would not be a big issue but the criminal aspect might make someone who's having those immoral thoughts to rethink their decisions."
Substitute teacher Amy Rucker thought the state was moving in the right direction, until this decision. "That's crazy, and they're a student in the school? And if they're a student in the school they can have a relationship with a teacher?!"
Even students, like Danyell Littlejohn, don't understand. "I think that's stupid, you should go out with people your age, not anyone teaching you anything. Anyone who helps you learn should not help you do anything else."
Landers says it's an abuse of power, "The issue is not age, it's the issue of having a teacher with a child under their care."
Principal Landers hopes the State's Attorney General will appeal the ruling. The State is looking at options.
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