A Texas educator who was recently recognized as “Teacher of the Year” allegedly performed oral sex on a student in a classroom, authorities said.
Randi Chaverria, a 36-year-old family and consumer science teacher at Round Rock High School, was arrested by Williamson County police on Tuesday. She faced second-degree felony charges of an improper relationship between an educator and a student, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
According to the complaint affidavit, Chaverria engaged in “sexual contact or deviate sexual intercourse” with a student at the school where she is employed.
The unnamed student told police that Chaverria repeatedly gave him oral sex twice in October, the affidavit said. He recalled that she called him and had sexual contact with him on “several occasions.”
Text messages sent between the student and Chaverria appear to be consistent with the teen’s accusations, investigators said.
In May, Chaverria was named “Secondary Teacher of the Year” in her school district. An announcement of her award praised her for having “developed her own goals of what she hopes to instill in her students, which transcends curriculum and aims to create well-rounded students who make a difference.”
“The most important role of a teacher is to help shape future generations to become successful members of our community,” Chaverria was quoted as saying. “More than any curriculum I teach my students, I hope that they will walk away from my classroom thinking of ways that they can make a difference in their community and impact the lives of others for the better.”
On Nov. 18, Principal Matt Groff sent an email to parents notifying them that Chaverria had an improper relationship with a student. He said she had passed a state background check prior and was recommended by her previous employers, KXAN reported.
“Safety is the top priority of Round Rick High School and Round Rock ISD,” Groff wrote in the letter. “Ensuring a safe and secure learning environment requires partnership between students, parents, campus and district staff, as well as law enforcement.”
Chaverria, who was on personal leave at the time, resigned the following day.
She was bailed out of Williamson County jail a few hours after turning herself in.
It’s not just Randi Chaverria
Texas Education Agency officials said reports of inappropriate relationships between students and teachers have increased in recent years, KVUE noted.
Between September and October 2019 alone, 73 incidents were reported in the state. During the 2018-2019 fiscal year, there were 442 reports, up from 429 a year earlier and 108 in 2008-2009.
One possible explanation for the recent spike is Texas’ 2017 “Pass the Trash” law, which stepped up punishments for principals and superintendents who fail to report inappropriate relationships.
However, the problem is bigger than Texas.
A 2017 study published by the U.S. Justice Department found that women account for a large and growing minority of the sexual abuse committed by educators against students nationwide.
Psychologist Anna Salter, an expert on sexual predators, said in a 2013 study that women who sexually target students are typically married mothers in their mid-30s.
“They think they love the children,” she explained.
Charol Shakeshaft, an education professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who led the research, said these women are known as “opportunistic abusers.”
“[They] tend to spend a lot of time around groups of students, talking with them, going to the same places they go, and trying to blend in,” she said. “They are the teachers who want to be seen as hip or cool and who want the students to think they are part of the student peer group.”