A North Texas high school teacher whom kids called “Creepy Cooper” was allowed to resign last month after getting caught sending sexually suggestive messages to a student. Now parents worry the district may adopt curriculum that encourages similar encounters.
Lovejoy Independent School District was set to fire Ray Cooper in June for “serious misconduct” after learning the teacher sent a string of inappropriate chat messages to a male high school senior in early April.
However, at the June 6 board meeting, Superintendent Katie Kordel told trustees firing Cooper was no longer an option because he had tendered his resignation “effective immediately today.”
Kordel said according to the Texas Education Code, “45 days before the first day of instruction is a period where teachers can resign and the resignation must be automatically accepted.”
“The evidence clearly demonstrated Mr. Cooper’s conduct violated the employee standards of conduct and the Educators’ Code of Ethics,” said Board President Barrett Owens. “This board does not tolerate violations of policies or procedures, and should the law have allowed, the board would’ve taken immediate action to terminate this evening.”
Standard 3.9 of the Educators’ Code of Ethics, read aloud by Board Vice President Amy Smith, states: “The educator shall refrain from inappropriate communication with a student or minor, including but not limited to electronic communication.”
The code says determining if communication is “inappropriate” depends on the subject matter, nature, purpose, timing, and amount; if it was sexually explicit or could be reasonably interpreted to be soliciting sexual contact or a romantic relationship; whether it involved discussion of the physical or sexual attractiveness or the sexual history, activities, preferences, or fantasies of either the educator or the student; and whether the educator tried to conceal the communication.
Cooper’s communication with the apparently gay student checked several inappropriate boxes. The chat messages started around 10:30 p.m. with compliments about a photo of the boy. He then asked if there was “a boyfriend in the picture.”
“I would think that you would have them lined up,” he continued. “You seem like the total package.”
Cooper’s last message of the night asks the boy’s preferred position during sexual intercourse.
One Lovejoy ISD parent, whose child had Cooper for a teacher last year, told Texas Scorecard some of the kids called him “Creepy Cooper” and were not surprised by the actions that resulted in his resignation, as it wasn’t his first instance of inappropriate behavior involving a student.
“I’m guessing it will be swept under the rug because the child graduated,” she said.
Passing the Trash
At the June 6 meeting, Kordel and Owens assured parents the district would report Cooper’s misconduct.
“Mr. Cooper’s resignation will be documented as ‘in lieu of termination’ and we are reporting this to the State Board for Educator Certification as well as any other relevant agencies as required by law,” Kordel said, referring to Texas’ 2017 “pass the trash” law that obligates school officials to report inappropriate student-teacher relationships so offenders can’t simply move to other schools or districts.
“All reports required by law have been made to the requisite agencies, and we will cooperate with those investigations to the fullest extent possible,” added Owens.
So, what is Cooper doing now?
On his LinkedIn page, Cooper says he’s “retired” but “ready for a new career opportunity” and touts his “proven track record of student engagement.”
Cooper also notes his Teacher of the Year awards from Lovejoy ISD.
School Curriculum Replaces Parents With “Trusted Adults” Like Cooper
“It’s just all so sad,” Lovejoy ISD mom Karla Gant told Texas Scorecard. “He really was an amazing teacher and well loved by the entire community.”
“But that’s what’s even more scary about it,” she said.
And then you are going to turn around and suggest a health curriculum that takes parents out of the equation and encourages our teenagers to seek sensitive advice from a “trusted adult”?
At a board meeting on June 20, Gant urged trustees against adopting any curriculum that encourages children to make health decisions independent of parental guidance, citing the incident with Cooper as a cautionary tale:
There are multiple areas in these texts that refer our children to “trusted adults”—counselors, health care workers, hot lines, and even websites with chat rooms—with no mention of parents at all.
Gant referred specifically to the controversial Goodheart-Willcox high school health text that Lovejoy and many other districts are considering—and in some cases, rejecting.
“This liberal ideology has allowed teachers to cross lines that should not be crossed,” Gant told Scorecard. “It’s a serious issue.”
Cooper’s case reminded local residents of a similar scandal.
In 2019, longtime Lovejoy ISD Superintendent Ted Moore was allowed to resign amid allegations of “inappropriate conduct” with “adult victims” identified as district staff members.
Moore had worked at Allen ISD for years before moving to McKinney ISD and then taking the superintendent job at Lovejoy ISD. In 2020, a local school-district watchdog won a three-year ethics battle against Moore for illegal electioneering in a vote to raise property taxes.