Today, Councilmember Robert White, along with Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau, Mary Cheh and Elissa Silverman, introduced a bill requiring schools to inform parents when there is a criminal investigation into a school staff member for sexual misconduct, and to require an annual report of cases of sexual misconduct by school staff against a student.
Currently, schools have no communication protocol to inform parents when a staff member is accused of sexual misconduct if the alleged victim is not a student. Often schools give parents no information, and in recent cases, parents found out through media reports that a teacher at their child’s school was being criminally investigated for sexual assault.
White said, “I’ve heard from parents about how unprepared they were watching the morning news with their elementary school children who asked why their teacher was on TV. To hear parents talk about their struggle to answer their children’s questions about what rape is was heartbreaking. Parents must be given the opportunity to ask their children important questions about whether they have been mistreated at school and prepare them for what may be happening at school.”
The Reporting Sexual Misconduct in Schools Amendment Act of 2020 will help schools develop policies to immediately communicate to parents and the school community when they become aware that law enforcement is investigating a staff member for sexual misconduct, even if it happened outside of school. The bill also requires the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to annually report incidents of sexual misconduct to hold schools accountable, give prospective parents the information they need to ask how a school has improved safety for its kids, and allow school leaders and the Council to see if there are trends they need to address.
White said, “As a father of a daughter who attends school in the District, I want her to know that if something unthinkable happens in her school, adults at every level of leadership are putting her and other kids first.”