'Passing the Trash' is a term applied when educators who allegedly engage in sexual abuse or misconduct are able to escape with only light penalties and relocate to another school district. Now Pennsylvania lawmakers are working to stop 'Passing the Trash' practice through state and federal laws.
The Jeremy Bell Act, a federal bill, and the Senate Bill 1381, a state bill, are intended to strengthen abuse reporting laws and require background checks for all school employees. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and is seen as the right time to bring awareness to sex abuse prevention. While the new laws are seeking to protect children from alleged abusers, it is unclear how educators will protect themselves in the event of false accusations.
According to proponents of the bill, there should be increased attention on background checks to ensure that there are no predators who are allowed back in the schools. It has been suggested that the current laws are too weak and that there is no legal protection to prevent sexual misconduct in the schools.
The superintendent of the Springfield School District said that Pennsylvania has made advances in protecting minors against sexual misconduct by employees, but that both of these laws will increase the chances of catching preventable conduct, before it is too late. Pennsylvania is at the center of abuse scandals and is sponsoring both state and federal legislation.
New laws would require schools to obtain all prospective employees' work records. It would also prevent any confidentiality agreements between alleged abusers and officials. New laws could raise difficulties for teachers who were falsely accused or who were not convicted of a crime.
Springfield Patch, "Superintendent Advocates Legislation To Stop 'Passing the Trash.'" April 19, 2012.
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