Judging from Jane Cunningham's trumpeting of her Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, which passed the Missouri Senate this week, you would think that behind every classroom door is a student looking to prey upon unsuspecting children.
She mentions that studies have shown that Missouri ranks 11th in the number of teachers losing their licenses due to sexual misconduct. Nowhere does she mention, because it would not fit in with her propaganda, that a law passed in Missouri in the 1990s made it much easier for school authorities to handle this type of situation, therefore we obviously would have more teachers losing their licenses than other states that never bothered to put such safeguards into place.
Mrs. Cunningham makes it appear that school officials have willingly let perverts go from one school to another to avoid possible lawsuits. That may have been the case at one time, but that has happened much less in recent years. Despite what Mrs. Cunningham seems to think, school administrators have consciences and are not going to allow those who have been caught abusing their positions of trust to simply continue to prey elsewhere.
This is simply another in a long line of anti-teacher, anti-public school legislation foisted upon the legislature and the public by Mrs. Cunningham. Her news release is printed below:
Today, Senate Bill 54, sponsored by Senator Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, passed unanimously in the Missouri Senate and will now move to the House for debate. Senate Bill 54 will create the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act with the aim of preventing the sexual abuse of children.
“I’m very glad that this necessary and protective legislation has passed in the Senate,” Sen. Cunningham said. “This bill is vital to protecting public school students from sexual predators in the classroom. The bill will make it easier for school officials to be aware of sexual misconduct demonstrated by their employees when making hiring decisions.”
Amy Hestir, whom the legislation is named for, is a Missouri woman who was continually molested and assaulted by her junior high school teacher while she was in school. The teacher was employed by several school districts before winning a “Teacher of the Year” award before retiring. The practice of sexually abusive teachers moving across the state is so common that The Missouri Department of Education has termed the phrase, “Passing the Trash”.
“In Missouri’s current employment law, school districts are reluctant to share information regarding former employees for fear of lawsuits,” Sen. Cunningham said. “As a result, teachers who engage in sexual abuse or misconduct with students are able to relocate from one school district to another, with the new school district unaware of the employee’s prior record, as in the case of the teacher who assaulted Ms. Hestir.”
Under Senate Bill 54, Missourians who apply for a teaching certificate would be required to complete a criminal background check, and in order to be hired, the applicant cannot have been listed under the state sexual offender registry or the state child abuse registry.
School districts in Missouri would also be allowed to discuss information about their employees with other school districts. Also, school districts would be liable for damages if they dismiss an employee or allow an employee to resign for reasons of sexual misconduct, and then fail to disclose those reasons in an information request from another school district.
Senator Cunningham went on to say, “Studies show that Missouri is the 11th worst state in the nation for educators losing their licenses because of sexual misconduct. This is unacceptable. If passed and enacted into law, Senate Bill 54 would bring a peace of mind to students and their parents, knowing that state schools are safer.”