Legislation aims to prevent sexual misconduct by teachers with their students

The legislative package passed by the General Assembly this year follows a comprehensive report from Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson which revealed deficiencies in hiring practices for school personnel that could allow predators to slip through the cracks.

Teacher Misconduct / Background Checks – Ensures that background checks are conducted to identify sexual predators before a teacher license is issued and that reports are done on an ongoing basis for those who work with children.  Presently, school districts require an initial background check before hiring. There was a comprehensive report from Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson which revealed deficiencies in hiring practices for school personnel that could allow predators to slip through the cracks.  There was a case that came before the State Board of Education regarding a teacher who had been convicted of statutory rape and who wanted his professional license back. The State Board of Education denied the licensure, but was overturned by a Chancery Court in Davidson County based on ambiguity in the board’s rules.

 

Senate Bill 2014 / by Gresham, Hensley, Gardenhire, Haile, Tate, Kelsey, Crowe, Dickerson, Lundberg / Status: Passed House and Senate / Effective Date: July 1, 2018

 

Teacher Misconduct / Previous Employment Information – Prohibits a Local Education Agency (LEA) from entering into a non-disclosure agreement with a teacher that would prevent other school districts from knowing about sexual misconduct.  It also allows districts to access information about the previous employment of a teacher with another school district.

 

Senate Bill 2015 / by Gresham, Lundberg, Gardenhire, Haile, Hensley, Tate, Crowe, Dickerson, Kelsey / Status: Signed by Senate Speaker / Effective Date: July 1, 2018

 

Teacher Misconduct / Alcohol and DrugsUpdates the state’s Teacher Code of Ethics regarding inappropriate teacher-student relationships, including engaging in sexual behavior with students or furnishing them alcohol or drugs.

 

Senate Bill 2013 / by Gresham, Gardenhire, Haile, Hensley, Tate, Crowe, Dickerson, Kelsey, Lundberg, Ketron, Massey, Yager/ Status: Concurred, Ayes 31, Nays 0 (Amendment 2 – HA0982) / Effective Date: July 1, 2018

 

Teacher Misconduct / Reporting Misconduct – Grants the State Board of Education authority to reprimand school directors for not reporting instances of misconduct and clarifies the board’s authority to reprimand educators for violating the Teacher Code of Ethics. The reporting requirements enhance information sharing, both in Tennessee and with other states, so that no predators can fall through the cracks.

 

Senate Bill 2011 / by Gresham, Haile, Gardenhire, Hensley, Tate, Crowe, Dickerson, Kelsey, Lundberg, Ketron / Status: Signed by Senate Speaker / Effective Date: July 1, 2018

 

Teacher Misconduct / Teacher Discipline Made Public – Calls for the State Board of Education to post all final teacher disciplinary action on its website to allow school districts, as well as out-of-state entities responsible for the licensing and hiring of Tennessee educators, to access information regarding the final disciplinary action of an individual’s license case.  It also requires final licensure action be reported to the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) database for the same purpose.

 

Senate Bill 2012 / by Gresham, Tate, Gardenhire, Haile, Hensley, Crowe, Dickerson, Kelsey, Lundberg / Status: Signed by Senate Speaker / Effective Date: July 1, 2018

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