A state representative believes legislation is needed to insure that sexual predators don’t end up on school pay-rolls.
Rep. Jane Cunningham (R-Chesterfield) says a report conducted for Congress estimates that one in ten schoolchildren are subjected to sexual misconduct at school, sometimes by a teacher or coach. Cunningham is chairman of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee. She plans hearings early in the legislative session on the issue to determine just how widespread is the problem.
Cunningham says background checks on school employees, including teachers, have been inadequate, sometimes contain invalid information, and aren’t followed-up. She also sees a lack of communication between the Department of Social Services and the Department of Secondary and Elementary Education as well as with the State Highway Patrol.
Tighter regulations and tougher laws aren’t the only answer. Cunningham says parents need to be trained on how to spot signs that their children have been subjected to inappropriate sexual conduct. Cunningham is urging anyone who has a story to tell about sexual abuse at school to come forward and testify to her committee.