Today is introduction day, with California Senate Bill 1456 primed for close examination by the state’s Senate Education Committee. Its sponsor, Sen. Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga), hopes for smooth sailing through the committee and a next-stage endorsement in the State Assembly.
One commentator on the legislation notes its intent to spotlight and defeat the “practice of passing the trash.” Put into context, that means the common outcome of California school districts not delving deeply into the histories of teachers with alleged instances of child sexual abuse in their backgrounds that didn’t result in criminal convictions. Many such educators who have left positions have been easily able to secure employment elsewhere.
Morrell sees that as a dangerous loophole that needs to be forcefully closed. If enacted as law, his bill would mandate that a past employer and prospective hiring school closely communicate concerning virtually all information regarding a teacher’s questionable conduct with children. A recent article on SB 1456 notes its intent for school officials “to disclose any information about an individual’s record regarding sexual abuse of minors.”
That spells a big change from current law providing that only criminal charges be disclosed.
Morrell states that concerns focused on overzealous reporting that could hurt teachers who actually did nothing wrong are unwarranted.
“We want to protect the innocent,” he recently said, adding the legislation targets only proven abusers.
A principal with one California teachers’ group says that his association will readily support new law, provided that false allegations are uniformly precluded from the information that is conveyed by a former employer to a prospective hirer.