Fitzpatrick Language Enhances Student Safety in House Education Bill
'Jeremy Bell Act' measures passed by bipartisan House
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) took to the House floor Tuesday in support of student protection legislation that included safety measures from his Jeremy Bell Act.
"The Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act of 2013 will ensure consistent and comprehensive school employee background checks in all states," said Fitzpatrick in support of the bipartisan legislation. "The bill also includes language from a bill I introduced, the Jeremy Bell Act, which would block federal funding to schools that knowingly hire or transfer teachers involved with sexual misconduct."
The Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act [H.R. 2083], which passed the House by a voice vote, also requires every state educational agency that receives federal funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (PL 89-10) to conduct criminal background checks on each school employee, and it prohibits them from employing any individuals convicted of certain crimes.
Fitzpatrick introduced the Jeremy Bell Act in the 109th Congress and again this year. Language from Fitzpatrick's bill was also included in the Student Success Act of 2013 [H.R. 5] which passed the House in July.
While speaking on the floor, Fitzpatrick also highlighted the role of Jeremy's father, Roy, in supporting student protection legislation.
"In testimony submitted to a field hearing I held in Philadelphia last Congress, Roy Bell – Jeremy's father - expressed his outrage and sadness that our education system had failed to protect the life and innocence of his 12 year old boy," said Fitzpatrick. "Unfortunately, Jeremy's father passed away this weekend. It is on his behalf, and on behalf of all parents and students I will continue to work to pass legislation that protects our students."
"We have been glad to be able to work with the Congressman on this very important legislation - we'll be very glad to see this loophole closed. Here in Bucks County we're talking about 14 school districts and more than 90,000 children who are going to be protected," said Julie Dugery, Coordinator of Volunteers and Community Outreach for Network of Victims Assistance (NOVA) of Bucks Co. "It's important that our children not be at risk in a place that really should be their sanctuary – somewhere they spend seven, eight, nine hours a day in a school setting and it's important for them to be safe there."
The Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act was introduced by Education Committee Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA-11) and is endorsed by the Children's Defense Fund and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.