Advocates Praise Passage Of Legislation Protecting Tennessee Children

Safety advocates this week praised passage of five bills that help protect Tennessee school children from educator sexual misconduct. The bills were filed after several weaknesses were revealed in a Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury report earlier this year.

All five bills passed on the House floor with bipartisan support. They include:

• House Bill 2165 — Clarifies the appropriate boundaries that should exist between educators and their students by adding new language to the Tennessee Teacher Code of Ethics. Requires school districts to conduct annual training on the Code of Ethics and its requirements.

• House Bill 2009 — Clarifies the State Board’s authority to take a range of disciplinary actions against the licenses of educators for misconduct violations. Requires Directors of Schools to report certain offenses or allegations to the Tennessee Department of Education.

• House Bill 2433 — Prohibits school districts from entering into nondisclosure agreements with employees who have committed sexual misconduct regarding a student.

• House Bill 2099 — Requires the State Board of Education to post all final disciplinary actions taken by the Board on educator licenses. Also requires the Board to develop policies concerning the transmission of its final disciplinary actions against an educator’s license to a national clearinghouse.

• House Bill 1997 — Requires all public schools and child care programs to ensure criminal background checks are completed every five years for all educators or any other employee whose job requires them to work with or near school children. Additionally, if Tennessee is accepted into a national program, public schools and child care programs would instead be required to participate in the FBI “Rap Back” program, which provides continual notifications directly to districts of any criminal history reported to the FBI after an employee is hired.

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