Protection for students from predators

HumanTraffickingThe Senate voted to protect Oklahoma’s students by preventing school employees who have committed sexual crimes against minors from seeking employment in other school districts.  Sen. Kyle Loveless is the author of Senate Bill 301, which will stop districts from unknowingly hiring sexual predators, and keeping predators from moving around the state to avoid detection.

Currently, if charges are filed against a school employee for crimes such as sexual abuse, rape or exploitation of a minor, the District Attorney will notify the applicable school superintendent and the State Board of Education.  The Board then can revoke or not issue that individual’s teaching certificate or the district can fire the individual in cases involving other school employees.  Loveless said SB 301 will address those cases where the victim does not press charges against their assailant.

Often times to protect their privacy and avoid further trauma of facing their perpetrator in court, many young victims and their families choose not to press charges against school employees if they simply agree to resign. This allows that individual to move on to other school districts without prospective employers knowing anything about their crimes—putting more innocent, young people in danger. This bill will ensure our State Board of Education can keep track of these monsters so they can’t continue to work in Oklahoma schools,” said Loveless, R-Oklahoma City.

SexualAwarenessLoveless pointed out that this bill is about licensure and not criminal proceedings; those would still be handled by the local District Attorneys. But the bill would ensure those predators are not allowed in another classroom in the event the student does not press charges.

SB 301 would require local school district boards of education to notify the State Board of Education within 30 days of an employee being fired or resigning while under investigation for committing a sexual crime against a minor. The bill also allows the State Board of Education to hire someone to investigate such cases. This investigator would work confidentially to look into accusations to verify their validity and protect teachers from false allegations.

We have an obligation to protect our children and their innocence.  They should feel just as safe at school as they do at home or church.  We should do all we can to keep sexual predators out of our schools and this bill is another step in that effort,” said Loveless.

SB 301 is now in the House of Representatives for consideration.