Report: Ohio teacher misconduct cases have increased dramatically

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A report by the Ohio Department of Education shows that teacher misconduct cases in the state have increased dramatically since 2005.

According to the report, there has been a 69 percent increase in referrals for possible teacher misconduct during the past seven years. Officials with the Ohio Department of Education say that the cases are being reported more often, and the punishments for such cases are harsher.

Stacy Schuler, Ryan Fahrenkamp and Julie Hautzenroeder… all are Ohio teachers who have been accused of convicted of teacher misconduct. These high profile cases are included in a report by the states' Office of Professional Conduct.

According to the report, the number of misconduct referrals in the state in 2005 was 4,770. However, in 2012 that number was 8,068.

"I don't think this is something new, I don't think that there has really been an increase, it's just an increase in reporting," explains Charlie Ritggers.

Ritggers has represented several accused teachers, including former Mason High School teacher Stacey Schuler. Schuler was convicted of having sex with five Mason High School students.

Ritggers says social media is also part of the problem. "The students have easier access to the teacher and things may develop that shouldn't develop as a result of that," explains Ritggers.

At the University of Cincinnati, they're prepping future educators to the dangers of social media.

"Yes, we want them to get to know their students, yes we want them to form good relationships, but it's being a friend and being a teacher are two different things," explains Karen Troup, an Associate Professor at the University of Cincinnati. "That transition is often difficult."

The hour and a half program addresses what and what not to wear as a teacher. The program also addresses who to befriend on Facebook and what to publish on social media sites.

"We need to continue to do what we're doing to turn them into professionals," says Troup.

It's important to note that this report does not just include sexual misconduct cases.

Copyright 2013 WXIX. All rights reserved.