Fitzpatrick Introduces Student Protection Measures

Jul 19, 2013 Issues: Education
Fitzpatrick Introduces Student Protection Measures

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) successfully added and unanimously passed an amendment to a national education funding bill that would protect students from teachers or staff known or suspected of sexual misconduct with a minor.

The amendment was attached by a voice vote to the Student Success Act of 2013 [H.R. 5] which passed the House Friday by a 221-207 vote.

“All children deserve to be safe in school- my amendment would work to ensure that,” said Fitzpatrick. “By increasing penalties to block federal funds to schools or agencies that put students in danger we can work to protect children’s’ innocence.”

Fitzpatrick’s amendment blocks state or local educational agencies from receiving funds if they facilitate the transfer of an employee if they know - or have probable cause to believe - that the employee has engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor. Furthermore, the amendment would require the hiring of employees to be compliant with the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act background check requirements. 

“The transferring of teachers known or suspected of sexual misconduct between school districts is known simply as ‘Passing the Trash’,” said Fitzpatrick. “This shameful practice was first brought to my attention in 2006 when I learned of the story of 12-year old Jeremy Bell who was drugged, sexually abused and then murdered by his elementary school principal who had been passed between schools despite multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. This could have been stopped.”

A Department of Education report shows that nearly 10% of students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career.  Meaning about 4.5 million students a year in the United States currently have suffered from some form of sexual abuse by a member of the staff at their school.

“We know the overwhelming majority of educators are committed, caring individuals who are deeply invested in the development of their students- because of this we owe it to them to rid our schools of bad actors,” added Fitzpatrick. “My amendment ensures that the days of sweeping child predators under the rug are over.”

The amendment includes language similar to the ‘Jeremy Bell Act’ which was introduced by Fitzpatrick during the 109th Congress.

Watch Congressman Fitzpatrick’s testimony on the amendment to the House Committee on Rules HERE

Watch Congressman Fitzpatrick’s floor statement in support of the amendment HERE

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Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He represents Pennsylvania’s 8th district which includes all of Bucks County as well as a portion of Montgomery County. He serves as the Vice Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.