Today's highlighted bill, H.R. 3766: Jeremy Bell Act of 2011, was introduced on December 23rd by Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick. The proposed bill would penalize by fine, imprisonment, or both, public and private school employers who complete interstate transfers of employees who are child sex offenders. The bill also addresses sexual conduct reporting standards for employees of a school.
This bill was originally introduced in 2006, after the murder of Jeremy Bell in November 1997 by his elementary school principal, who gave him chemicals to wear down his defense against a sexual assualt. Records indicate that reports regarding Jeremy Bell were made to the school board by parents and teacher, yet no actions were taken. According to Philadelphia Weekly, the principal had been allowed to complete six interstate transfers to other schools and school districts. An interstate transfer recognizes an educator's education and experience and allows them the ability to transfer to other districts and states either by choice or because of a corrective action. (Other states may have additional licensing requirements to meet standards.)
According to the bill text, this bill would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to require:
- Individuals employed by a school to report incidents of known or suspected sexual conduct involving a minor;
- The State to ensure that individuals who fail to report to law enforcement are fined or otherwise penalized;
- The State to make a clearinghouse available to educational entities that includes the identity of a reported individual as well as termination information as a result of sexual conduct involving a minor.
Another related bill was introduced by Senator Casey which would amend The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to require mandated reporting by all, as well as training for those who may be most likely to witness abuse. See the previous blog post by Danielle regarding this legislation.
What do you think about singling out sexual conduct with a minor over other forms of child maltreatment? Should certain organizations or professions be held to a higher standard of reporting child maltreatment, or should everyone be held to the same standard? Why or why not?