For the third time this year, a Texas school district is assuring parents that their children are safe after a teacher was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a student.
In the latest incident, Shannon Hrozek, 42, of Houston, was charged with sexual abuse of a child after police say a co-worker caught her performing oral sex on a 16-year-old boy inside a dark, locked classroom at Westfield High School. Hrozek will be in court today.
Hrozek's arrest comes less than a month after Carlos Hector Valencia, another Westfield teacher, was accused by an 18-year-old girl of inappropriate touching inside a campus barn where the school houses livestock. The alleged incident took place in November. Valencia, a Spanish teacher, will be arraigned later this month.
In October, 33-year-old Alison Mosbeck, a teacher at Dueitt Middle School, was arrested and charged with three counts of sexual abuse of a child and having an improper teacher relationship with a student. Mosbeck allegedly began a relationship with a boy after initially asking him where she could buy some marijuana, according to a court affidavit. She brought him to a festival, where a sexual relationship began.
Both schools are part of the Spring Independent School District, which serves about 32,000 students in Harris County, a suburb of Houston. The school district, described as among the fastest growing in Texas, has about 5,000 employees, the majority of them teachers.
But the size of the district hardly justifies the spate of incidents, school officials said, even if they are isolated.
"It happening one time isn't acceptable," Regina Curry, a spokeswoman for the school district, told ABC News. "Certainly happening three times is not acceptable."
None of the three teachers have been convicted of the charges they face and each is out of the school system pending the outcome of their respective cases.
Curry pointed out that reporting measures in place in the school district helped expose at least one of the the suspected teachers. In Valencia's case, the student involved reported the inappropriate touching allegations Nov. 26 through an anonymous online system.
Valencia, according to the affidavit, allegedly began telling an 18-year-old honors student who regularly did chores for him in his classroom that she was "sexy" and "hot." On Nov. 1, he accompanied the student to the campus barn, where she helps raise livestock for a school group. There, the girl told investigators, he pulled her pants down and shirt up and assaulted her.
Valencia acknowledged to authorities that he had engaged in sexual conduct with the girl inside the barn twice, according to the affidavit.
A letter sent to parents of Westfield High School students celebrated the student's courage in coming forward and announced that the teacher had first been suspended and later fired.
In Mosbeck's case, a mother of one of the victim's friends reportedly contacted authorities after she saw text messages on the student's cell phone from Mosbeck, a mother of two. The teacher was looking for drugs, an affidavit alleged. It also stated that Mosbeck entered into a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old that prosecutors said lasted from fall 2006 to at least March 2007.
Mosbeck was initially put on paid leave, but has since resigned, according to Curry, who pointed to Mosbeck's case as an example of an alert parent taking action.
Hrozek's charge may be considered the most brazen alleged abuse by a Spring school district educator. The probable cause affidavit stated that a school janitor notified an assistant principal Jan. 3 about a teacher inside a classroom with a student and the lights off after the school day had ended.
The administrator used a master key to open the door and discovered Hrozek performing oral sex on a 16-year-old student from one of her English classes. Hrozek, for now, is on paid leave from her teaching position.
In Hrozek's case, Curry said, other school staff members took swift action to confront the teacher involved.
Despite reporting methods in these cases that the district may consider positive, Curry acknowledged that the school district shares in the responsibility for the incidents — even if that means exposing teachers who are involved.
"When parents send their children to us, it's our job to protect their students," Curry said. "If a person needs to be exposed, the person needs to be exposed, so they can't just go down the road to their next employment." None of the three teachers had previous criminal records that would have made them a threat to students.
Curry emphasized the importance of students and staff members reporting abuse and said that the problems in the Spring school district are happening in Texas and across the country.
The Associated Press tallied reports of sex offenses by teachers in the fall and found that there were more than 2,500 cases nationwide over four years that had resulted in some form of punishment. Of course, there are nearly 3 million public school teachers nationwide, a statistic that enforces the adage "one bad apple doesn't spoil a bunch."
Experts reacted to the AP's finding, claiming that most abuse is never even reported in the first place.
"While it's very painful for us to deal with any one of these situations, we've got to confront it," Curry said. "We've got to deal with it so other people will come forward."