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Toomey, Manchin Introduce Bill to Protect Children from Sexual Predators in Our Schools

February 12, 2015
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Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today called on the Senate to take long-overdue action on their bipartisan bill to keep sexual and violent predators out of our kids' classrooms.

"In 2014, at least 459 teachers and other school employees were arrested across America for sexual misconduct with children, including 26 Pennsylvania teachers," said Sen. Toomey. "Every story represents a tragedy, a childhood shattered, and a family torn by grief, betrayal, and self-blame. We have an obligation to do everything in our power to safeguard our children from sexual predators. I am grateful to Sen. Manchin for joining me in this effort to protect America's children."

"Every child deserves to have at least one place where he or she feels safe and comfortable. For many of our kids these days, that place is at school," Sen. Manchin said. "This commonsense bill will truly help protect our kids from sexual assault predators or any individuals who inappropriately behave in our schools."BACKGROUND: The Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act was inspired by the tragic death of 12-year-old Jeremy Bell. The story began when a school in Delaware County, Pennsylvania dismissed a teacher for molesting several boys and raping one. Amazingly, the school helped the teacher land a new job in West Virginia, where he eventually raped and murdered 12-year-old Jeremy Bell.

You can watch the video of the press conference here.

This bipartisan bill requires schools receiving federal funds to perform background checks on all new and existing workers who have unsupervised access to children. This includes the substitute teachers, coaches, classroom aides, and bus drivers who are hired as contractors, and are not subject to background checks in 12 states. The background checks must be thorough, covering two state and two federal databases.

The Toomey-Manchin bill forbids schools from hiring persons who have been convicted of certain crimes, including any violent or sexual crime against a child. The Protecting Students act also bans the terrible practice of a school allowing a child molester to resign quietly and helping the predator find a new teaching job elsewhere-a practice so common it has its own moniker, "passing the trash.".

SUPPORTERS OF THE BILL:

Child Advocates

• National Children's Alliance
• Children's Defense Fund
• National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
• PA Coalition Against Rape
• American Academy of Pediatrics
• PA Partnerships for Children

Law Enforcement

• Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
• National District Attorneys Association
• Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association

Educators

• American Federation of Teachers
• Pennsylvania School Boards Association