There is no Federal mandate for states to conduct comprehensive background checks on K-12 school employees, contractors, volunteers or third party agents. The vulnerability of our children is heightened by our failure to develop a coordinated system for conducting background checks and tracking instances of educator misconduct. S.E.S.A.M.E. promotes a Federal mandate for all states and the District of Columbia to conduct uniform and comprehensive background checks on all school employees and third parties coming in contact with students.
Creation of a National Offender Database and Data Collection
Most educators must undergo fingerprinting and background checks as a general hiring rule. The practice of passing the trash has been complicit in enabling offenders to go undetected by our judicial systems. Perpetrators are, therefore, free to gain employment with a seemingly clean criminal history. The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights gathers data on student-to-student sexual harassment, though neglects to collect data on adult-to-student sexual harassment in its Civil Rights Data Collection(CRDC) survey. S.E.S.A.M.E. promotes the establishment of a national database where educator offenders with substantiated offenses and disciplinary action can be recognized and documented in CRDC.
On February 8th, SESAME joined forces with other prevention organizations and advocates to lead the development of a public comment letter to the Department of Education regarding important updates to the Civil Rights Data Collection Survey. See Letter to the Department of Education.
Criminalize Educator Sexual Misconduct
Surprisingly, not all states have laws that prohibit sexual conduct between school employees and students. The most unprotected population of students are those who are of age to consent and those who are older special education students with disabilities. S.E.S.A.M.E. promotes standardized nationwide legislation that will uniformly criminalize educator sexual misconduct to equitably protect ALL students from harm.
End “Passing the Trash”
Passing the trash occurs when a teacher accused of sexual abuse/misconduct resigns, retires or is terminated and is allowed to quietly move to another school/school district without his or her new employer being alerted to the allegations of misconduct.
S.E.S.A.M.E. promotes legislation that will prohibit the practice by banning confidentiality/separation agreements in instances of sexual misconduct/violence, requiring information sharing between employers, and mandating annual training of all school community stakeholders to recognize and report sexual misconduct.
Federal Mandate Prohibits Passing the Trash:
ESSA Sec. 8546
On February 18th, 2022 S.E.S.A.M.E., U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania urged the enforcement of ESEA Sec. 8546 alongside a call for the release of the final report from The Study of State Policies to Prohibit Aiding and Abetting Sexual Misconduct in Schools (Study). See S.E.S.A.M.E.'s Press Release and Letter to Department of Education.
The S.E.S.A.M.E. Act: A Model for States to Adopt
This legislation adds new requirements for the hiring of all positions at school entities and independent contractors of school entities that involve direct contact with children (defined as “the possibility of care, supervision, guidance or control of children or routine interaction with children”). The goal of the legislation is to identify those applicants that have been the subject of allegations, investigations or finding of abuse or sexual misconduct involving a child.
States that have adopted the S.E.S.A.M.E. Act
Connecticut – HB 5400 of 2016
Nevada – AB362 of 2017
New Jersey – S414 of 2018
Maryland HB 486
Child Abuse Recognition & Reporting Act: A Model for States to Adopt
Training must address, but not be limited to, the following topics:
Recognition of the signs of abuse and sexual misconduct and reporting requirements for suspected abuse and sexual misconduct in this Commonwealth.
Provisions of the Act of December 12, 1973 (P.L.397, No.141), known as the "Educator Discipline Act," including mandatory reporting requirements. This Act was revised in February, 2014 and enhances many aspects of the Act.
The school entity's policies related to reporting of suspected abuse and sexual misconduct.
Maintenance of professional and appropriate relationships with students.
Act 126 of 2012 Sample Training Videos - Lancaster-Lebanon IU13