AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The number of cases of teachers accused of soliciting romantic relationships from students has increased for the ninth year in a row in Texas, with a state education official attributing the increase to more awareness of the issue.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that in the one-year period that ended Sept. 1, the Texas Education Agency opened 302 cases against public teachers accused of having improper relationships with students. That's a 36 percent increase from the year before.

Doug Phillips, TEA's director of educator investigations, attributes the growth to increased vigilance among teachers and administrators of recognizing and reporting improper behavior.

State lawmakers made curbing improper teacher-student relationships a priority during this year's regular legislative session.

He says, "We've amped up the pressure to report and we've made people more aware."