- Associated Press - Friday, September 25, 2015

PROSPER, Texas (AP) - A North Texas teacher said Friday that she was improperly reprimanded after reporting another teacher had allegedly made sexual advances toward a student.

MariBeth Thomas was criticized by the principal for reporting the incident to city police rather than to the school system’s police, the Dallas Morning News reports (https://bit.ly/1jjuLhw ), citing a recording of a meeting shared with the newspaper.

“I’m all about PR and how this high school looks, and we’re going to take care of this young lady, and we’re going to do it in a confidential manner to protect her, to protect all parties that are involved,” Prosper High School Principal Greg Wright said in the recording.

Thomas told school officials a student told her another teacher sat close to her and touched her leg during a tutoring session.

After three other students left, the educator moved his chair next to the girl and told the student in a soft voice, “I like you,” according to the recording.

Thomas told the teachers that the girl said she felt his finger on her leg and she left.

Thomas’ attorneys allege the school district violated a state law meant to protect those who report allegations of abuse. They have called for an independent investigation into the March meeting.

Thomas’ attorneys, Debbie Sanchez and Victoria Neave, say Prosper Independent School District has created confusion and fear for other teachers who are legally obligated to report similar allegations.

“What Prosper ISD has essentially done has a chilling effect for teachers to report outcries of abuse in the future,” said Neave.

School officials told the newspaper that they did nothing wrong.

“Was it an uncomfortable meeting? Absolutely. Was she reprimanded? No,” said Michael Goddard, the district’s assistant superintendent.

Thomas, 44, resigned as a health science technology teacher after three years with the school district.

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