Thursday, February 2, 2023

Senate Education Quickly Passes Two Bills to Protect Students

The Senate Education committee quickly advanced two bills dealing with child sexual abuse and child sexual violence prevention during a Tuesday morning meeting.

Senate Bill 187 would create a new felony for any public or private school teacher, principal, counselor, coach, or other employee who engages in sexual intercourse, sexual intrusion, or sexual contact with any student regardless of the student’s age. Student consent, or occurrence of the act off of school property or outside of a school function do not qualify as a defense under the proposed law.

The proposed penalties under the bill would be 1-5 years in prison and a fine up to $5,000. A conviction would trigger the forfeiture of any teaching or other certificate.

The idea for the bill came from a county prosecutor that approached lawmakers after he received information that two teachers were involved in a relationship with students. However, because the students were 18 years of age, there was no mechanism to charge the teachers.

The other piece of legislation advanced Monday, Senate Bill 124, would require the state Board of Education to develop a program in dating violence prevention and sexual violence prevention for students in grades 7-12.

Under the proposed law, the state board must also post links on its website to free curriculum that covers the required instruction. Parents also must be able to inspect the curriculum upon request.

The bill would also require four hours of in-service training in these areas for any county school board nurse, teacher, counselor, school psychologist, or administrator.

Senate Bill 124 advanced to the full Senate while Senate Bill 187 moves on for consideration the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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