A counselor was employed by a school district under a term contract. The contract specified that the counselor must comply with applicable state and federal laws and the district’s policies, rules, regulations and administrative directives.

The counselor’s daughter was a freshman at the high school in the district. The daughter participated in an after-school mariachi program that was co-taught by a paraprofessional employed at the district. One day at school, the daughter’s cell phone was confiscated by one of her teachers. The teacher gave the phone to the counselor, who noticed that the phone was receiving inappropriate and sexually explicit texts from the papaprofessional who taught the mariachi program. The counselor and her husband met with the paraprofessional and his wife and insisted that he cease communicating with their daughter. They then withdrew their daughter from the mariachi club. The incident was not reported to law enforcement or to CPS.

Another school employee at the district later learned of the texts and reported them to district administration and CPS. The counselor was placed on administrative leave with pay for failing to report the text messages to CPS. She was subsequently proposed for contract termination and requested a hearing before an independent hearing examiner. After the hearing, the board of trustees voted to terminate her contract. The matter was appealed and ultimately considered by the Fourth Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals held that the counselor could be terminated for failing to report the text messages to CPS. State law and board policy requires a professional who has cause to believe that a child has been or may be abused or neglected must make a report to law enforcement or CPS. Board policy stated that failure to report could subject an employee to termination. The counselor violated the policy because she failed to make a report to CPS when she became aware of inappropriate texts between an adult and a minor.