PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 29, 2014 — State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams issued the following statement today to note the entry into Pennsylvania law of his proposal to prevent schools from hiring teachers, coaches or staff who have sexually exploited, abused or harassed students:
“This new law closes a glaring loophole that allowed people, disguised as educators, to walk the halls of new schools and target new prey because their employers were required to look the other way or hire blindly.
“Act 168 of 2014 will forever be the long arm of the law that disallows schools from transferring or hiring employees with a history of investigations and dismissals for abuse or sexual misconduct.
“The new law makes it a legal requirement that schools learn if a teacher, an administrator or staff member has been the subject of an abuse or sexual misconduct investigation. It makes them find out if someone has ever been disciplined, discharged, non-renewed or asked to resign from employment. And it requires them to discover if someone has ever had their license, professional license or certificate suspended, surrendered or revoked while allegations of abuse or sexual misconduct were pending or under investigation.
“Schools need to know these things because our children don’t deserve to fall victim to hiring practices that have included turning the other cheek. Schools have placed other considerations ahead of the well being of our kids.
“Twelve-year-old Jeremy Bell died because Edgar Friedrichs Jr.’s decades-long abuse of school children went unreported and unpunished. Act 168 is for Jeremy as much as it is for every other Pennsylvania student who has been a target, and for every student from this day forward who will no longer be targets of sexual predators posing as educators.
“Passing the trash is over, thanks to this new law.”
The governor signed House Bill 1816 into law Oct. 22. The statute becomes effective Dec. 21.
The new law includes the original language from Williams’ Senate Bill 46, which the senator proposed on Jan. 4, 2013.
Sen. Williams applauded a number of people, including survivors, who helped fight to get legislation signed into law, including Terri Miller, president of the national SESAME group; Andrea Clemens, a teacher-abuse victim and author; SESAME Advisory Board member Dr. Chester Kent; and Lebanon County District Attorney Dave Arnold