Kids deserve to have a safe and healthy school environment where they are free to learn and grow.
The overwhelming majority of Indiana’s school employees work hard every day to provide such an environment – enabling our state’s next generation to be prepared for success in life.
Unfortunately, there have been several high-profile cases in the news in recent months involving school employees breaking this sacred trust and engaging in sexual misconduct with students. These cases have involved teachers, coaches, counselors and others who have regular contact with kids at school.
Preventing this unacceptable behavior requires vigilance on the part of everyone in the community. It is also a priority for the Indiana General Assembly.
This session, lawmakers are working on a number of bills aimed at stopping predators from slipping through the cracks and being hired by our schools.
-Senate Bill 34 would require school employees to get background checks every five years, instead of only getting one at the start of their employment.
-Senate Bill 298 would require schools to conduct criminal background checks of new employees before their start date. Currently, schools can wait to do background checks for up to 90 days after a new employee’s start date, potentially allowing bad actors to temporarily gain access to a school.
-Senate Bill 447 would require school employees who work directly with kids to receive training in detecting and reporting child abuse at least once every two years.
-Senate Bill 249 would require a school corporation and charter schools to adopt a policy requiring the employer to contact references and, if applicable, the most recent employer before hiring a prospective employee.
All of these bills are currently moving through the legislative process. It’s my hope that they will all be signed into law this session, giving our students additional protections from individuals who may seek to do them harm.
As always, I welcome your thoughts on these bills or any other issues being considered by the General Assembly this year. My office can be reached by phone at 800-382-9467 or by email at Senator.Long@iga.in.gov.
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