Missouri State Senate

Introduced

SB 41 – This act creates the "Amy Hestir Student Protection Act." (Section 160.085)

SECTION 37.710: This act grants the Office of the Child Advocate the authority to file any findings or reports of the child advocate regarding the parent or child with the court and to issue recommendations regarding the disposition of an investigation, which may be provided to the court and the investigating agency.

SECTION 160.261: If a student reports alleged sexual misconduct by a teacher or other school employee to a mandated reporter, the school district superintendent must forward the allegation to the Children's Division within twenty-four hours. This act changes the standard used when the school board considers allegations of alleged child abuse to a preponderance of the evidence. If the school board finds and concludes that the alleged child abuse is unsubstantiated, but the allegations contain an element of sexual misconduct, the record of allegations and the report of it being unsubstantiated must be retained in the information system of the Children's Division. In addition, if any allegations contain an element of sexual misconduct but the case is unresolved, the record of allegations will be retained in the information system of the Children's Division. These closed records will be retained for a period of five years if the allegations were initiated by a mandatory reporter or two years if the allegations were initiated by another party. A mandated reporter as described in the act, who is a school officer or employee, who fails to report, will be subject to a fine of up to $5,000 or one year in jail, or both. A student who makes a false allegation will be subject to disciplinary action by school policy, including the attachment of a notice of the false allegation to the student's permanent record.

SECTION 160.262: This act authorizes the Office of the Child Advocate to offer mediation services when requested by either party when child abuse allegations arise in a school setting. No student or parent will be required to enter into mediation but a school district is required to participate if a parent requests mediation. The Department may also direct the average daily attendance of a student to be counted in the receiving district. Student participation in student activities at such school or school district will be on the basis of a resident basis. Procedures for mediation are described in the act.

SECTION 162.014: A registered sex offender, or a person required to be registered as a sex offender, is prohibited from being a school board member or candidate for school board.

SECTION 162.068: Beginning July 1, 2010, any school employee who is required to undergo a background check and register with the family care safety registry will be asked to sign a waiver to permit a school district access to closed records in the child abuse registry or information system if there are at least two records or reports of unsubstantiated or unresolved incidents. No applicant for employment will be required to sign the waiver to be considered for employment.

By July 1, 2010, every school district must adopt a written policy on information that the district may provide about former employees to other potential employers.

The act grants civil immunity to school district employees who report or discuss employee job performance for the purpose of making employment decisions that affect the safety and overall well-being of a student or students if done in good faith and without malice. The Attorney General will defend the employees in such an action as described in the act.

If a school district had an employee whose job involved contact with children and the district received allegations of the employee's sexual misconduct and the district dismisses the employee or allows the employee to resign and the district fails to disclose the allegations in a reference to another school district, the district will be liable for damages and have third-party liability for failure to disclose.

SECTION 162.069: By January 1, 2010, every school district must develop a written policy concerning teacher-student communication and employee-student communications. Each policy must include appropriate oral and nonverbal personal communication, which may be combined with sexual harassment policies, and appropriate use of electronic media as described in the act, including social networking sites. Teachers cannot establish, maintain, or use a work-related website unless it is available to school administrators and parents, or have a nonwork-related website that allows exclusive access with a current or former student.

By January 1, 2010, each school district must include in its teacher and employee training a component that provides information on identifying signs of sexual abuse in children and of potentially abusive relationships between children and adults, with an emphasis on mandatory reporting. Training must also include an emphasis on the obligation of mandated reporters to report suspected abuse by other mandatory reporters.

SECTION 168.021: In order to obtain a teaching certificate, an applicant must complete a background check as provided in section 168.133.

SECTION 168.071: The crimes of sexual contact with a student while on public school property as well as second and third degree sexual misconduct are added to the offenses for which a teacher's license or certificate may be revoked.

SECTION 168.133: This act changes, from two to one, the number of sets of fingerprints an applicant must submit for a criminal history background check. An employee employed after July 1, 2010, who is required to undergo a criminal background check must register with the family care safety registry. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must facilitate an annual check for employees with active teaching certificates against criminal history records in the central repository, sexual offender registry, and child abuse central registry. The Missouri Highway Patrol must provide ongoing electronic updates to criminal history background checks for those persons previously submitted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

SECTION 210.135: Third-party reporters of child abuse who report an alleged incident to school administrators are immune from civil and criminal liability under certain circumstances.

SECTION 210.145: The Children's Division must provide information about the Office of the Child Advocate and services it may provide to any individual who is not satisfied with the results of an investigation.

SECTION 210.152: The Children's Division may reopen a case for review at the request of any party to the investigation if information is obtained that the investigation was not properly conducted under the provisions of Chapter 210, RSMo, or if new information becomes available.

SECTIONS 210.915 and 210.922: This act adds the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to the list of departments that must collaborate to compare records on child-care, elder-care, and personal-care workers, including those individuals required to undergo a background check under section 168.133 and who may use registry information to carry out assigned duties.

SECTION 556.037 - This act repeals the current twenty-year statute of limitations for the prosecution of unlawful sexual offenses involving a person eighteen years of age or younger.

This act is identical to provisions contained in HCS/SS/SB 291 (2009) and is substantially similar to HCS/HB 1314 (2008), is similar to SB 1212 (2008) and contains provisions identical to HB 2334 (2008) and HB 2579 (2008).

MICHAEL RUFF

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