McSweeney drafts bill that would protect students from sexual abusers
Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) has filed a bill to ensure that sexual abuse and assault cases are handled properly by schools.
HB 5914, drafted by McSweeney and Sen. Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park), requires school boards to report sexual assault or abuse cases involving a licensed educator to the state Board of Education. They must establish a hearing for student victims and make sure that the licensed educator under investigation is reassigned to a non-classroom position. It would be a criminal offense for an authority figure to engage in sexual conduct or relations with students of all ages.
The bill enables school districts to disclose disciplinary records of personnel that relate to sexual abuse and disclose the findings of internal investigations to other school districts. Additionally, an arresting agency must share its reports related to an arrest of a licensed educator with the employee’s school district.
“This comprehensive legislation is a solid start and a good base that we can amend as further policy recommendations are given or more legislative gaps come to light,” McSweeney said in a press release.
HB 5914 comes following an investigation by the Chicago Tribune that found 72 alleged perpetrators have been working in schools across Chicago over the last decade. The investigation revealed that Chicago Public Schools performed shoddy background checks that resulted in several educators being hired who ended up committing abuses.
“The mistakes made by the schools in Chicago are reprehensible; nothing like this should ever be allowed to happen again,” McSweeney said. “These cases were handled atrociously by CPS and they were allowed to get away with it because of shortcomings in state law. The Chicago Tribune’s investigation unveiled that while this is a significant issue in Chicago, this is also a statewide problem.”