Plymouth, MI asked in Criminal Law, Juvenile Law, Sexual Harassment and Small Claims for Michigan

Q: Can a teacher engage in a relationship with a student after they have graduated?

I got into a debate about this. My friend said that within the state of Michigan, that's where I live, a teacher may not engage a student for about a year or two after they have graduated. When I ask about teacher student relations. I'm not just talking about high school teachers. Lets say a student runs into a teacher they had in 7th or 8th grade, obviously that comes off as a little inappropriate on the teachers part. Then to follow that question with student teachers too. Do the same rules apply?

Thank you

1 Lawyer Answer

Brent T. Geers

Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: The answer to your question is subject to much debate. From the teacher's perspective, assuming that the student is then over the age of 18, he or she may find that being involved with a former student has career implications if not legal problems.

It is true that under Michigan law, a teacher could be charged with an aggravated CSC (1st or 3rd) under the teacher - student provision even if the student has since graduated. The rationale touches on consent. The real problem is that the teacher in such a scenario places themselves in a defense position. The assumption - right or wrong - is that something untoward was going on while the student was in school, and other instances may now be going on with other students. No teacher who cares about his or her career should ever purposely place him or herself to call any teacher-student relationship into question.

Of course, there is a natural end point where I think it might be safe - albeit perhaps not from a public perception prospective. If a 30 year old starts dating a 50 year old who happened to have been the 30 year old's middle school teacher, that's far different - perception-wise - from a 25 year old dating an 18 year old college freshmen who was the 25 year old's student 9 months ago.

As to student teachers, the same rules apply. They would be "teachers" under the statute because they are in a position of authority relative to the student. Perhaps more importantly, they are not yet "teachers" from the standpoint of having a paid job in their choosen profession, and the backing of a union. If a student teacher is serious about ever having a teaching job, it would be wise to avoid giving anyone the idea that you are someone that can't keep his or her mitts off young adults.

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