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Senate requires all school worker abuse reports be investigated


Those who work in education and are accused of abuse won’t be able to just move on to other school districts without investigation, under a bill that passed the Oregon Senate on Saturday.

Senate Bill 155 requires investigations of all reports involving suspected abuse or sexual conduct by school employees, contractors and agents. It also establishes requirements for law enforcement agencies and Department of Human Services to conduct investigations related to reports of abuse that involve children and school employees.

“Keeping kids safe take collaboration between communities and agencies,” said Sen. Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis), who co-carried the bill on the Senate floor. “SB 155 closes the gap in the investigation of dangerous behaviors by adults in our schools by ensuring that schools, law enforcement and DHS can investigate and share information to remove dangerous adults from school settings. Not only will this bill improve safety in our public schools, but it will extend to unlicensed child care as well.”

Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015, which prohibits school districts, state departments of education, school employees, contractors or agents from assisting school employees, contractors or agents investigated for sexual conduct from obtaining new jobs unless certain reporting requirements are met.

A 2018 Portland Public Schools report detailed how several former teachers stayed employed despite multiple reports of sexual conduct. This bill will help to prevent that in the future, supporters said.

“This bill will help keep our kids safe in schools by requiring that all reports of assault and sexual conduct in our schools be reported,” said Sen. Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay), who co-carried the bill on the Senate floor. “The bill will make sure we get to the bottom of these situations rather than helping people who are accused to simply move on.”

Senate Bill 155 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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