WASHINGTON – Since the beginning of this year, more than 325 teachers and other school employees across the country have been arrested for sexual misconduct with children. That’s a statistic that does not sit well with some senators, so they are getting serious about cracking down on the problem.
“Every single day,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), “some teacher is being arrested somewhere in America for sexual misconduct with students.”
Toomey is pushing bipartisan legislation that would require schools to perform background checks on all new and existing employees.
The bill also forbids schools from hiring people who have been convicted of certain crimes, including any violent or sexual crime against a child.
“I deal with the here and now,” said Jon Adler, National President of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. “They are monsters and they’ve got to be stopped.”
The bill would also ban schools from a practice, Toomey calls, “passing the trash.” That is when a school allows a known child molester to resign quietly and sometimes helps the predator find a new teaching job.
“If a teacher is a convicted pedophile, or going through the due process of finding out,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), “you don’t want that teacher in the classroom.”
This bill already passed unanimously in the House of Representatives, but it is stalled in the Senate. So, some lawmakers are putting pressure on the democratic leadership to call for a vote now.
“Put it in on the floor,” said Toomey. “If somebody doesn’t like this bill, fine. Go ahead and explain why and argue against it and vote ‘no’ if you’re going to vote ‘no.’ But, I think it’s unconscionable not to have the debate, not to have the vote. I also know for a fact that it will pass overwhelmingly.”
Senators are coming off a five-week August recess, and they only have two more weeks to pass this bill before they recess again, ahead of the November election.