Local News

Dec 4, 2013 7:47 PM

Teacher Does Jail Time, Hangs on to Certificate

CORPUS CHRISTI - Teaching certificates like any other license, are a badge of professional legitimacy.

KRIS 6 News figured Taft Band Director Rodrigo Hinojosa, who just got out of jail for having sex with a student, would instantly lose his certificate. We found out that's just not the case.

A simple internet search can turn up a host of information on a Texas teacher:when their certificate was issued, will expire and whether it is valid.

But the problem is the information may not line up with reality.

Hinojosa got ninety days in jail in San Patricio County and a Nueces County prosecutor is asking he get six months in jail, here.

But the Texas Education Agency's website shows only that his teaching certificate, though under review by the state, is still valid.

TEA officials said they didn't even know about Hinojosa's jail term until KRIS-6 investigates told them.

They said they will have to start a formal investigation. until then, Hinojosa remains a licensed educator.

CCISD Superintendent Scott Elliff said school districts have to manage the disconnect between the bureaucratic process and a criminal history.

"During the hiring process you could go to the TEA (or) State Board of Educator Certification website and see a certificate is not even flagged and it could look like there's not a problem at all," Elliff said on Wednesday.>

He said districts take every precaution and do extensive criminal backgrounds and checklists.

"That's what's gonna catch anybody that might not have gone through the whole tea investigative process if they've had a problem before," he said.

But the fact remains: A teacher can have sex with a student,do time in jail for it, and the state education bureaucracy still may not know about it.

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