MERCED, Calif. – A former California high school teacher will serve a mere five months in jail for carrying on a year-long sexual relationship with a student.

cartermcabeMelody Carter-McCabe, 28, also will not be required to register as a sex offender as part of her sentencing for having sex with a 15-year-old student she was mentoring as part of the Future Farmers of America program at Livingston High School, the Daily Mail reports.

“It’s extremely troubling because parents send their children to school, and they trust their child with educators,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Rob Carroll said. “I think 99.9 percent of educators do a fantastic and sometimes thankless job. It’s unfortunate there are people … like the defendant who give educators a bad name.”

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Carter-McCabe was initially charged with nine felony counts of unlawful sex with a minor and was facing a potential 12 years in prison after the Merced County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation in March into rumors about the couple at school.

The victim told investigators the relationship started in 2010, when he volunteered to help the teacher with chores at her home. He told police he kissed the teacher and weeks later they began to have sex, the Daily Mail reports.

The student, who was 15 at the time, said he had sex with his teacher at least 50 times between September 2010 and August 2011, and described sex toys detectives later found at Carter-McCabe’s home. He also provided identifying information about the teacher’s body, as well as pictures of her in her underwear he had stashed on his cell phone, the news site reports.

As a result of the unlawful affair, Carter-McCabe will only serve five months in jail and another five months on probation, the Daily Mail reports.

We have to wonder why the judge didn’t take her case more seriously. Nearly every day, teachers are sexually abusing students in their care and, because of union protections or secret deals, are getting away with it.

It’s a topic we’re highlighting this week with our four-part series on these “sextracurricular activites” in schools.

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We believe it’s a serious issue that demands serious action.

At the very least, teachers accused of sexual relationships with their students should face the same punishment as other sex criminals – including the requirement to register as a sex offender. Letting Carter-McCabe off easy sends the message that educator sexual misconduct is far less serious of a problem than it really is.