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New Bill Looks to Keep Sexual Predators Out of Schools

A new bill is looking to close a loophole in the law that may allow teachers accused of sexual misconduct to transfer to another school, undetected.
STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - A new bill is looking to close a loophole in the law that allows school employees accused of sexual misconduct to transfer to another school, undetected.

House Bill 2063 calls for mandatory employment history reviews in schools across the state.

Current law allows a school employee, accused of sexual misconduct, to resign from the district and then seek employment at another school district, without any accusations coming to light.

It's a problem child advocates said needs to be stopped.

"Many, many people who commit these offenses get away with it because they blend in," Kristen Houser, Vice President of Communications for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, said.

Houser calls it the "Pass the Trash" bill.

"If teachers are dismissed from a school district for sexual misconduct, a lot of times those cases are settled quietly," she said. "There are agreements made that nothing will be discussed and teachers can move on to another school district and that school district will never know that it was an issue at the prior one."

Houser said it's a real problem in schools across Pennsylvania and often goes unnoticed.

"The issue with background checks is that the only that's going to come up is something that's officially reported," she said. "It's important that records not be sealed and that we're taking away opportunities to hide those kinds of behaviors."

House Bill 2063 does that. Representative Scott Conklin supports it.

"It's because sexual predators are trolling for victims," Conklin Chief of Staff, Tor Michael, said. "If you are let to go from an employment situation, but there are no criminal charges, you can just go on to your next hunting ground."

He said there's no way to tell if a law like this would have made a difference in the Jerry Sandusky scandal, but will hopefully keep other situations like it from happening.

"The Sandusky sensitivity is at the forefront of a lot of what is being pushed through the legislature right now," Michael said. "If there is any good that can come out of what occurred here in this community, this law is a part of that."

The bill passed unanimously in the House. Representatives from Conklin's office are hopeful it will pass quickly in the Senate.


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