According to the U.S. Department of Education, nearly 1 in 10 students is the target of educator sexual misconduct sometime during his or her academic career. At least one-quarter of school districts in the U.S. have dealt with a case of sexual abuse by a staff member in the past decade, while more than 3 million students currently in grades K-12 have endured sexual touching or assault, according to a report from the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation.
These numbers stand alone in their devastation to students, parents and schools. Perhaps just as alarming, however, is an often overlooked fact: many teachers punished for sexual abuse wind up right back in the classroom at another school. Of abuse perpetrators who resigned, retired, weren’t rehired or were terminated for their misconduct, superintendents report that 16% went on to teach in another school – and these are just the cases of which superintendents are aware. All told, only 62% of sexual abuse cases result in the revocation of teacher certification. Instead of promoting accountability and a healthy learning environment for students, school administrators and union officials allow predators to relocate to another school.
This phenomenon of educators and school employees reasonably suspected of student sexual abuse finding employment at a new school – known as “passing the trash” – is preventable. It occurs when an educator or school employee is allowed to quietly leave a school and move to a new district, without the new district being alerted to the past misconduct. There are concrete steps that can be taken to curtail this problem. In Pennsylvania, a bill has been introduced by Senator Anthony Williams to require school administrators to disclose allegations of sexual abuse for any employee given a reference, and to prohibit confidentiality agreements between a school and an alleged abuser.
The Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation Act (Senate Bill 1381), or S.E.S.A.M.E. Act, will help put a stop to the practice of passing the trash in Pennsylvania and, more importantly, will help protect the millions of children vulnerable to educator abuse. We ask you to sign our petition to let Governor Corbett know you support this measure, and that you are confident he will, too.
For more information on how to stop schools from passing the trash, visit: http://www.sesamenet.org/index.html