Fitzpatrick Student-Protection Measures Pass House
‘Jeremy Bell Act’ language included in House education legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) supported the passage of the bipartisan Student Success Act [H.R. 5], education legislation that includes measures advocated by Fitzpatrick to protect students from teachers or staff known or suspected of sexual misconduct with a minor.
“Every student deserves the right to be safe in their learning environment. Sadly, for too many children, that right is denied at the hands of sexual predators inside our education system,” said Fitzpatrick. “While an overwhelming majority of school teachers and staff are caring, dedicated professionals — last year 459 were arrested for using their position to abuse a student or child. In an effort to curb this alarming trend, I am proud that the Student Success Act includes my language which strengthens student protection efforts and hiring practices within our school system.”
“Every student deserves the right to be safe in their learning environment. Sadly, for too many children, that right is denied at the hands of sexual predators inside our education system.”
The language included in H.R. 5 comes from Fitzpatrick’s Jeremy Bell Act which passed as a part of larger legislation twice in the 113th Congress. The measure blocks state or local educational agencies from receiving funds if they facilitate the transfer of an employee they know, or have probable cause to believe, has engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor — a practice known as “passing the trash.” Furthermore, the measure requires the hiring of employees to be compliant with the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act background check requirements.
“After years of advocating for these common sense conditions, it is my hope that the Senate take up this legislation as a whole — including its child-protection language — and send it to the president’s desk to be signed into law,” said Fitzpatrick. “One student abused in a place of learning is too tragic to ignore.”
Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), who has introduced accompanying legislation, applauded Fitzpatrick’s work and urged Senate action.
“In the Senate, I have championed bipartisan legislation that ensures background checks are comprehensive and bans ‘passing the trash’ — the practice of helping pedophiles quietly leave and move to other school districts. This measure should not be controversial,” said Toomey. “With Rep. Fitzpatrick’s leadership, the House of Representatives approved this policy. It’s time for the Senate to get this done.”
“With Rep. Fitzpatrick’s leadership, the House of Representatives approved this policy. It’s time for the Senate to get this done.”
Fitzpatrick, a member of the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus, has been active in the community in garnering support for this important legislative fix, working with local stakeholders and non-profits to draw attention to the issue of sexual predators in schools and advance this solution.
“We have been glad to be able to work with the Congressman on this very important legislation — we’ll be very glad to see this loophole closed. Here in Bucks County we’re talking about 13 school districts and more than 90,000 children who are going to be protected,” said Julie Dugery, Coordinator of Volunteers and Community Outreach for Network of Victims Assistance (NOVA) of Bucks Co. “It’s important that our children not be at risk in a place that really should be their sanctuary — somewhere they spend seven, eight, nine hours a day in a school setting and it’s important for them to be safe there.”