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Toomey and Manchin accuse the Department of Education of being slow to protect students from predatory teachers

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FIRST ON FOX: A pair of bipartisan senators accused the Education Department of dragging its feet when it came to protecting students from sexual predator teachers.

Fox News Digital exclusively obtained a letter from Senators Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Joe Manchin, DW.Va., to Secretary of Education Miguel cardona regarding a recent department report titled “Study of State Policies to Prohibit Complicity in Sexual Misconduct in Schools.”

The senators wrote the report “examines state laws, regulations, and policies to ensure that certain school employees with a known history of sexual misconduct with minors cannot transfer schools without consequence.”

AT LEAST 135 TEACHERS AND ASSISTANTS ACCUSED OF SEX OFFENSES WITH MINORS THIS YEAR ONLY

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona received a letter about efforts to protect students from predatory teachers.
(Reuters/Evelyn Hockstein)

“Under Section 8546 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), states must have such laws, regulations, or policies in place as a condition of receiving federal grant dollars,” they wrote. “As you know, Section 8546, a provision that we both sponsored, was enacted on December 10, 2015, as part of the ESEA reauthorization.”

Toomey and Manchin detailed the tragic origin of his sponsored disposition: a “12-year-old student was raped and murdered by his assistant principal in West Virginia” after the assistant principal moved to the state from Pennsylvania.

The assistant principal “had sexually assaulted another student while working at a school” in Keystone State and instead of “being fired for misconduct, he was allowed to quietly resign and transfer to a new school in West Virginia, with tragic consequences.” . “

“In 2010, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that ‘school officials allowed teachers who had engaged in sexual misconduct toward students to resign rather than face disciplinary action, often providing positive references to subsequent employers,'” the letter says. “In the first six months of 2022 alone, preliminary searches of news sources illustrate that at least 181 K-12 educators and administrators were arrested for child sex crimes, including sexual assault of students and possession of child pornography.”

The senators wrote that their “legislation sought to end this horrible practice, known as ‘passing the trash’ or ‘aiding and abetting sexual abuse,'” but “seven years after its enactment, the patchwork of state laws identified in the The report shows that many states have failed to sufficiently ban practices that contributed to a student’s death, such as bogus letters of recommendation that allowed a school employee to transfer schools with a ‘clean’ record.”

They also wrote that the report’s findings “underscore the need for stronger enforcement to ensure that states comply with this important statutory provision.”

Additionally, Toomey and Manchin said they are “concerned that the Department has not yet set a concrete timeline by which states must comply.”

Senators Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin wrote in the letter obtained exclusively by Fox News Digital that

Senators Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin wrote in the letter obtained exclusively by Fox News Digital that they are “concerned that the Department has not yet set a concrete timeline by which states must comply.”
(Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

“The Department began work on this Report in October 2019 and entered into a contracting agreement with an outside entity to complete a survey of all 50 states and the District of Columbia,” the letter says.

“The Report’s data was collected through a survey of state entities, who answered questions about the status or types of laws in place in each state, as well as comprehensive reviews of laws, regulations, or public policies,” it continues.

“In the end, 48 state educational agencies (SEAs) or SEA representatives participated in the survey, which was conducted throughout October 2020,” the senators added.

The senators said the report found that “all 50 states and the District of Columbia require employers to complete criminal background checks on prospective school employees as part of the hiring process” and “recognizes that these laws have limitations, including that ‘ Applicants with a record of sexual misconduct in other states could omit or falsify their prior employment history on a job application without facing legal ramifications.”

“In addition, at least 35 states had at least one other law, regulation, or policy in place to protect students through the use of one of four main categories of protection: (1) requirements for prospective employers to screen an applicant’s background; (2) mandatory disclosures for job applicants; (3) information collected from current or former employers; and (4) prohibitions on suppression of information,” they added.

“However, the Report also revealed that at least 32 states do not have policies in place to meet the basic requirements of Section 8546,” the senators continued, highlighting the report’s shocking findings.

Senators Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin called the Department of Education

Senators Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin called on the Department of Education to “immediately implement the recommendations in this Report to ensure that all existing policies to protect children are followed.”
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The report found that only “19 SEAs believed that existing state laws and policies in their respective states were sufficient to meet the requirements of Section 8546” and “18 SEAs ‘monitor the district’s compliance with state laws or policies’ to Prohibit the practice of aiding and abetting sexual misconduct.

“These findings show that the Department has important work to do to ensure that states know that the federal funds they receive are at risk if they fail to comply with the law,” the senators wrote.

“Notably, during the survey process, many SEAs offered suggestions and recommendations for the Department to help states comply with the law,” they continued. “Those included requests for the Department to examine and share examples of policies and practices that other states are using to address the requirements of Section 8546, as well as clearer definitions and guidance from the Department regarding Section 8546.”

Toomey and Manchin called on the Department of Education to “provide this requested assistance” and pointed to Cardona’s own words in Senate testimony about how the department will “strengthen the system.”

“We urge the Department to immediately implement the recommendations in this report to ensure that all existing policies to protect children are followed, especially the ESEA’s prohibition on aiding and abetting sexual abuse,” the senators wrote. “Specifically, we urge the Department to issue formal guidance to states to ensure states are fully aware of how they can meet their obligations under the law.”

135 teachers and teaching assistants have been arrested for sex crimes against children so far this year.

135 teachers and teaching assistants have been arrested for sex crimes against children so far this year.
(Fox News/iStock)

The senators grilled the secretary with various questions, including whether the department has “identified any challenges to the implementation” of Section 8546.

The letter comes as at least 135 teachers and teaching assistants have been arrested so far this year for child sex crimes in the US, ranging from child pornography to student rape.

An analysis by Fox News Digital looked at local news reports week by week featuring arrests of teachers and paraprofessionals for child sex offenses in school districts across the country. Unpublished arrests were not counted in the analysis, meaning the true number could well be higher.

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The analysis found that at least 135 teachers and teacher aides have been arrested in 41 states between January 1 and May 13, which is equal to one arrest per day on average.

The vast majority of educators arrested were men.

Fox News Digital’s Jessica Chasmar contributed reporting.

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