U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is calling for action from the Department of Education after the department released their report on state policies to protect students from educators who engage in sexual misconduct. Under Section 8546 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—which Senators Toomey and Manchin originally introduced—states receiving federal education funding must enact policies or procedures to prevent academic institutions from allowing an educator who sexually abused a child from moving to another academic institution. This practice, commonly known as “passing the trash,” allows an educator to seek other educational jobs and continue the practice of assaulting students.  

“While I appreciate that the Department of Education has finally fulfilled its obligation to investigate whether states have implemented policies, laws, or regulations to stop the heinous practice of ‘passing the trash,’ I am deeply concerned with these findings,” said Senator Toomey. “Any educator who engaged in sexual misconduct with a child should be barred from ever teaching in a classroom again, yet too many states do not have policies to ensure that is the case. Releasing this report is only the first step—the department must hold states accountable and use the tools at its disposal to enforce the law.”

Seven years after the passage of this provision:

  • Only nine states have laws to address all four of the most significant factors to reduce the cover up of teacher sexual assault
  • Sixteen states have no provision beyond a background check to prevent passing the trash
  • Sixty percent of states have failed to ban the confidentiality and resignation agreements that endanger students by allowing predators to continue as educators
  • Only eighteen states monitor school district enforcement of laws related to aiding and abetting
  • More than a third of states expressed the need for more support and guidance from the Department of Education 

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