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Bill Would Protect Students From Sexual Abusers

Supports of the measure testify at Senate Education Committee hearing

New Jersey lawmakers want to stop teachers who’ve abused children from moving unnoticed from one school district to another.

A bill advancing in the legislature would require public and private schools to disclose whether there were allegations of abuse or sexual misconduct against teachers they fired.

Liza Kirschenbaum with Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Jersey says on the rare occasions when a school employee has been involved in sexual misconduct with a student, it should be disclosed to other schools that might potentially hire that person.

“The offenders should not be allowed to victimize other children in other schools. And schools that are aware of such incredible wrongdoing, should not be permitted to pass on potentially problematic personnel to an unsuspecting school district and to innocent children.”

Russ Russell is executive director of Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey. He says the measure would stop the practice that allows a tiny percentage of school employees to take advantage of their position of power and influence to sexually abuse students. 

“The me-too movement has broken the cloak of secrecy associated with the sexual assault of thousands of women in the United States. It’s time we bring that movement to protect our children and not the interests of school employees who want to have sex with students.”

Jonathan Pushman with the New Jersey School Boards Association hopes the legislation that was advanced by the Senate Education Committee has another deterrent.

“This is something that will help keep our student safe and hopefully from a practical standpoint it will keep any potential predators from even applying for jobs in our school districts and charter schools and private schools.”   

Job applicants who fail to disclose the required information would be denied employment and face fines.