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Toomey Applauds Department of Education’s Enforcement of ‘Pass the Trash’ Ban

July 2, 2018
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Washington, D.C. - On June 27, the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to all 50 states reminding them of their obligation to comply with a critical provision of the Every Student Succeeds Act authored by Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that prohibits schools receiving federal funds from helping known child molesters on staff obtain a job at another school. This horrifying practice is known as "passing the trash."

Although several states-including Pennsylvania-have enacted laws prohibiting the practice of "passing the trash," not all have. The letter sent by the Department of Education reminds states of their obligation to comply with federal law, offers technical assistance to states, and warns states that failure to comply may result in the Department of Education taking enforcement action against them.

"Outlawing the despicable practice of passing the trash was a huge victory for children and parents nationwide," said Senator Toomey. "I applaud the leadership and staff of the Department of Education for working to seriously enforce this critical measure and protect kids from pedophiles in schools. Parents deserve to know that when their kids go off to school each day, they are going to a safe environment where they won't be preyed upon."

The Department of Education's letter can be read here.

Background:

Senator Toomey's longstanding efforts to protect children from pedophiles in the classroom began in 2013, when he and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act (S. 474).

Every year, hundreds of school employees are arrested across America for sexual misconduct with children. In 2014-2017, at least 1,566 school workers were arrested for such misconduct - more than one per day of the year. One study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the average pedophile who is a school employee molests 73 kids over a lifetime.

Senator Toomey's legislation was inspired by the tragic story of 12-year-old Jeremy Bell, who was sexually assaulted and murdered by his school principal. A school in Delaware County, Pa. quietly dismissed a teacher for molesting several children. But instead of acting to stop this predator, the school helped him obtain a new job in West Virginia, where he eventually killed Jeremy Bell.

The Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act contained two components that:

  • Required that schools to perform criminal background checks on all employees (including contractors) with unsupervised access to children, and
  • Prohibited schools from helping a child molester find a new teaching job

During the Senate's debate on the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015, Senator Toomey offered the second component-the ban on "passing the trash"-as an amendment to the bill. The Senate voted unanimously, 98-0, to adopt Senator Toomey's bipartisan measure, which was subsequently signed into law by President Obama.
The ban on "passing the trash" earned widespread support from child advocates, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and pediatricians:

Child Advocates:

  • National Children's Alliance
  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  • S.E.S.A.M.E. (Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct & Exploitation)
  • Center for Children's Justice
  • Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
  • MassKids, Inc.

Law Enforcement:

  • Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
  • National Association of Police Organizations
  • National Sheriffs' Association

Prosecutors:

  • Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
  • National District Attorneys Association
  • PA District Attorneys' Association

Pediatricians:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics