Mom of Teen Living With Teacher Fights for Law to Make Student-Teacher Dating Illegal

Good Morning America

The mother of a California teen whose relationship with her 41-year-old high school teacher in California made national headlines is pushing for new legislation that would make such relationships a crime.

"I don't want another child, another family to be in this position," mother Tammie Powers said. "I'm angry and I'm frustrated."

Her daughter, student Jordan Powers, 18, and former teacher James Hooker went public with their romance on "Good Morning America" earlier this month. They first met when Powers was a high school freshman at James Enochs High School, in Modesto, Calif. Hooker quit his job last month and left his family. Powers stopped attending classes and switched to independent study. They later moved into an apartment together.

The couple have always said their relationship became sexual only after Powers turned 18, meaning there was nothing illegal about their actions under California law.

Tammie Powers is looking to change that and has taken action to prevent this from happening to another parent.

After the media attention on her daughter's case, a bill was introduced Tuesday in California that would make it a felony for a public school teacher to date a student in the same school, regardless of age, even if the student is 18. It would also penalize the school teacher, stripping him or her of pensions and retiree health care benefits if convicted.

"I plan on making this a national campaign in each and every state," Tammie Powers said. "I would like to see a national registry as a reference place for employers. … More or less it's kind of my way to channel this anger, frustration into something productive protecting students, protecting kids."

The bill's sponsor, Republican Assemblywoman Kristen Olsen, said that if the law is passed, California would join 23 other states, including Texas, North Carolina, Ohio, Connecticut and Kansas, in banning student-teacher affairs regardless of age, according to the Associated Press.

"For his or her teacher to manipulate their position of authority and take advantage of that student is wrong," Olsen said.

The bill would also criminalize sending sexual text messages and other forms of seductive communication to prevent teachers from pursuing students.

Tammie Powers said earlier she discovered 8,000 text messages between her daughter and Hooker, along with late-night phone calls and email exchanges that took place when she was still a minor.

There is a police investigation into the case, but no charges have been filed against Hooker.

She confronted Hooker on "The Dr. Phil Show" earlier this month and accused Hooker of brainwashing her daughter. The couple have repeatedly defended their relationship and say they have no regrets.

For Hooker, his new life now means finding a job other than teaching. His 17-year-old daughter no longer attends the school all three attended together. Jordan Powers' new life consists of independent study and a hope to graduate this spring.

"I don't think I look at her as a student at all at this point," Hooker said. "And I think we are sharing a life."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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