I’m Going to Have to Side With the Teachers’ Unions on This One
And we all know how shocking that is. But, in this case, I actually think they’re right that a well-intentioned bill to prevent teacher abuse would have had some pretty unfortunate consequences. The Springfield News-Leader provides some background.
It’s hard to believe. You’d think that a bill making it easier for school districts to remove teachers found guilty of sexual misconduct would get the fast track to approval (and pass unanimously). Yet SB 1212, which for better or worse did just that, eventually stalled in the Senate and was never voted on.
In my opinion, there were two problems with the bill. First of all, it would have removed any discretion on the merit of an accusation from individual school districts (as was the previous standard) and have immediately made any accusation a state matter. And, second of all, any allegation (whether valid or not) would remain on a teacher’s record for five years and could potentially be used in employment decisions (districts are granted full immunity on hiring decisions based on such allegations). Accusers are also immune from any civil or criminal liability.
Ok, so here’s the problem I see. A vindictive student alleges sexual misconduct in response to a bad grade. The matter, regardless of how baseless the accusation may be, is immediately brought to state authorities and a report of the incident is placed in a closed file that can only be viewed by future employers if the accused teacher signs a waiver. But this isn’t much of a choice, in that a refusal to sign the waiver would appear as a tacit admission of guilt. Meanwhile, the student accuser is immune from any sort of retaliation. That’s a problem.
I have to agree with the teachers unions that the bill would not have done enough to protect innocent teachers. I think this is a perfect example of a really well-intentioned bill that would have probably been an overreaction and ultimately a mistake.
Besides, it’s not like this guy is a teacher, so we’re probably pretty safe.