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Protecting Students and Protecting the Teaching Profession

Thursday, February 1, 2018   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Professional Educators of Tennessee
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

 Protecting Students and Protecting the Teaching Profession  [View/Download PDF]

 

In 2016, USA Today graded Tennessee with an F following a national investigation of educator sexual misconduct in schools that looked at each state’s efforts to reduce the chances that an employee with a history of sexual misconduct could move from one school to another without repercussions. Yesterday, Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), along with members of the Senate Education Committee, including Senators Reginald Tate (D-Memphis), Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga), Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), Steven Dickerson (R-Nashville), Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin), Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) filed five bills to prevent sexual misconduct by teachers with their students. The legislative package follows a comprehensive report from Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson which revealed severe deficiencies in hiring practices for school personnel that could allow predators to teach in Tennessee schools.

         Senate Bill 2011 which grants the State Board of Education's authority to reprimand school directors for not reporting instances of misconduct and clarifies the board's authority to reprimand educators for violating the Teacher Code of Ethics.

·         Senate Bill 2012 which calls for the State Board of Education to post all final teacher disciplinary action on its website to allow school districts, as well as out-of-state entities responsible for the licensing and hiring of Tennessee educators, to access information regarding the final disciplinary action of an individual's license case. It also requires final licensure action be reported to the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) database for the same purpose. In addition, committee members support an appropriation in the budget presented by Governor Bill Haslam on Monday for an additional staff attorney in the State Board of Education to review educator misconduct investigations and outstanding cases, and determine what licensure action, if any, should be taken.

         Senate Bill 2013 which updates the state's Teacher Code of Ethics regarding inappropriate teacher-student relationships, including engaging in sexual behavior with students or furnishing them alcohol or drugs.

         Senate Bill 2014 which ensures that background checks are conducted to identify sexual predators before a teacher license is issued and that reports are done on an ongoing basis for those who work with children. Presently, school districts require an initial background check before hiring.

         Senate Bill 2015 which prohibits a Local Education Agency (LEA) from entering into a non-disclosure agreement with a teacher that would prevent other school districts from knowing about sexual misconduct. It also allows districts to access information about the previous employment of a teacher with another school district.

 

Today, Professional Educators of Tennessee Executive Director, JC Bowman issued the following statement in support of the legislative intent to protect students:

 

“Any educator sexual misconduct or sexual abuse that involves children destroys trust and harms the entire school community. The Comptroller’s Office of Research and Education Accountability recent review and analysis makes clear we must keep those who have committed sexual misconduct out of our classrooms. The State Board of Education has tried to promote safety and security within Tennessee’s classrooms and uphold the high standards of the teaching profession. The state legislature is now proposing necessary changes that our organization supports. We have had input through the process, and will continue to add insight. We must get this right for both students and educators. The safety and well-being of students is the highest priority of any school. Bringing clarity to this issue will help educators, and ensures that adequate policies and procedures are in place for dealing with educator sexual misconduct in order to maintain the safest school environment possible.”

 

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Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited. For more information on this subject or any education issue please contact Professional Educators of Tennessee. To schedule an interview please contact Audrey Shores, Director of Communications, at 1-800-471-4867 ext.102.

Comments...

Peggy L. Hunter says...
Posted Monday, February 5, 2018
Recently, I have been told of some cases where if an educator found himself/herself in the position in which there there teacher-student relationship is not as it should be, he or she have been reprimanded and placed in a different location. The does not solve the problem. I agree that the safety and well-being of students should be the highest priority of any school and we must keep those who have committed sexual misconduct out of our classrooms.

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