|Pennacchio Legislation to Prevent and Address Teacher Sexual Misconduct Passes Committee
Senator Joe Pennacchio’s legislation requiring schools to establish policies to keep students safe from sexual abuse has passed the Senate Education Committee. This follows a recent scandal in which teachers’ union representatives were caught on video saying they “bend the truth” to “defend the worst people,” and boasted of covering up a teacher’s sexual relationship with a teenage girl.
“We all know that the overwhelming majority of New Jersey teachers want what’s best for our students,” Pennacchio (R-26) said. “However, we have proof that serious accusations of teacher sexual misconduct are being brushed under the rug. Empowering our New Jersey educators to better spot the warning signs of abuse and enacting new prevention techniques will help keep our kids safe in school.”
Pennacchio’s legislation, S-408, directs schools districts to establish policies and training for employees to combat the sexual abuse of students. This bill is modeled after Jenna’s Law from Texas, named after school sexual abuse survivor Jenna Quinn. To date, thirty states have passed similar legislation.
“This bill highlights the need for teacher recognition and involvement in protecting their students, our children,” Pennacchio added.
Recently, the release of undercover videos of union leaders describing how they protect teachers who have been accused of abusing students, sexually or otherwise, from disciplinary action. In response, a joint committee of the Senate Education and Labor Committees targeted an investigating at accusations of abuse in schools, which Pennacchio commended.
According to The Children’s Center for Psychiatry, Psychology, & Related Services, student sexual abuse by educators is increasing.
Pennacchio also sponsored recently enacted legislation to keep school children safe from predatory teachers who try to avoid the consequences of their actions by moving from school to school before allegations of abuse are publicized or disciplinary action can be taken. This ‘pass the trash’ law prevents teachers accused of abusive behavior from moving to a new classroom under the radar.
“Good teachers shouldn’t see their profession tarnished to protect a handful of bad actors,” Pennacchio stated. “I will not rest until every parent in New Jersey has the assurance that their child is in the safest education environment possible.”
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