NJEA has concerns about A-3381 (Downey,Webber) which requires school districts to report allegations of sexual misconduct to prospective employers even if there is no misconduct. This bill also requires a twenty-year look back on employment history of any allegations where there was no misconduct.
NJEA believes we all have the same objective: to ensure that our schools are the safest possible learning environments for all of our students. Nothing is more important to our members than the safety and wellbeing of our students. A critical component of creating the safe learning environment that they need and deserve is to ensure that any allegation of misconduct on the part of an adult against a child is taken seriously and investigated appropriately. There is no place in our schools for anyone who abuses children. There is no excuse for covering up misconduct that is known to have occurred.
Under current law, whenever an accusation of sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior is made, the police are notified as is Department of Children and Families. If a person is found guilty of misconduct, the Licensing board is notified as well. NJEA is concerned that the current version of the bill contains contradictions and inconsistencies that will prevent it from effectively achieving its purpose of protecting students. It does not serve anyone’s interests to hurriedly pass a bill that will lead to confusion and uncertainty where we need greater clarity and the ability to act decisively where such action is warranted to protect our students.
The safety and wellbeing of students is too important to get wrong. We urge you to refer the bill back to committee for amendments in order to get a strong, fair and legally sound bill that achieves our shared objective of ensuring that our schools are safe and welcoming learning environments for our students.
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