“Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act” Moves Through Congress – H.R. 2083
Public schools across America wishing to continue receiving federal funding may soon be held to new hiring restrictions due to pending legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 22. H.R. 2083, the “Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act” requires comprehensive background checks for anyone working or applying for work at a school, and it prohibits employment of anyone convicted of certain violent and sexual crimes.
What Does the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act Do?
The Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act aims to increase student safety in public schools by:
- Creating a uniform process in every state background check policy by requiring comprehensive criminal history background checks for any school employee, applicant for employment and contractor with unsupervised access to students. Cross referencing with existing child abuse and criminal registries, as well as the FBI fingerprint database is mandated.
- Prohibiting public schools from hiring or retaining anyone who has been convicted of certain violent crimes and crimes against children including child pornography crimes, rape and sexual assault;
- Prohibiting districts or states from knowingly transferring employees who have engaged in sexual misconduct with a student;
- Requiring that school districts periodically repeat or update background checks for all covered employees or contractors;
- Allowing for reasonable appeals to ensure that the screening of employees and job applicants is performed correctly, and allow employees and applicants to establish employment eligibility if the check was inaccurate or incomplete; and
- Allowing school districts to share recent background check results with other districts that are considering the same employee.1
Who Would No Longer be Allowed to Work at a School?
This pending legislation would prohibit employment in any public school to anyone who refuses to agree to a criminal background check or lies about his or her background. Moreover, current employees would be required to submit to reoccurring FBI fingerprinting or face termination.
Additionally, anyone convicted of the following felonies would no longer be permitted to work at an elementary or secondary school:
- Child abuse or neglect
- A crime against a child including child pornography crime
- Spousal abuse
- Rape and sexual assault
- Assault, battery, and drug-related crimes committed within five years of the criminal background check
Any person convicted of any other violent or sex crime involving a minor, either misdemeanor or felony, would also be permanently banned from employment at a kindergarten through 12th grade school.2
Why was the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act Introduced?
California Rep. George Miller (D) introduced H.R. 2083 suggesting that there is a connection between incidents of students being abused by a person in a position of trust at a school (a teacher arrested for having sex with a student, for example) and employment of persons with criminal records, specifically “child predators.”
A report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which identified cases of convicted sex offenders who had child victims and were working in schools where children were present was used as justification for the new legislation. The GAO found that inconsistent state laws and regulations regarding the use of comprehensive background checks led some school districts to unknowingly hire offenders.3
What’s Next for the New Legislation?
The bill has been received by the Senate for consideration. If the Senate passes H.R. 2083, it will be presented to President Obama for his signature or veto.
What Do the Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Think about this Bill?
On its surface, H.R. 2083 sounds like a good idea. Who would argue with an effort to protect minor students? The problem is the bill mandates federal hiring and employment practices that are better left to state and local levels.
The bill is also overly broad, applying to persons with criminal backgrounds that have nothing to do with child abuse or child sexual assault. Additionally, H.R. 2083 purports to protect every child from every possible harm at the expense of individual privacy. The goal is admirable, but it may be impossible to achieve.
Legislation like the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act continues to reinforce a pattern in our culture that a person who has suffered a criminal conviction can never be fully rehabilitated nor ever demonstrate a return to a lawfully-abiding life. If society continues to deny ex-offenders opportunities to successfully reintegrate, eventually they will have no options at all. This belief is counterproductive to public safety and should be of concern to everyone in this country.
How Wallin & Klarich Can Help You
If you or a family member has been charged with a crime, you need the excellent legal representation provided by our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich. Wallin & Klarich has over 40 years of experience protecting the rights of our clients.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich available wherever you happen to live. Our attorneys will thoroughly examine all of the evidence against you to determine whether all of the elements of a crime can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. If not, we will help you win your case, or we will aggressively negotiate with the District Attorney to help you avoid the most serious consequences of a conviction. Getting you the best possible result in your case is our first priority.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. [U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education & The Workforce Democrats: “H.R. 2083: The Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act of 2013”; http://democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/bill/hr-2083-protecting-students-sexual-and-violent-predators-act-2013]↩
2. [Congress.gov: “H.R.2083 – Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act 113th Congress (2013-2014)”; http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th/house-bill/2083/text]↩
3. [Education & The Workforce Committee: “House Passes Bipartisan Bill to Protect Students from Sexual and Violent Acts”; http://edworkforce.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=356076]↩