SB 631 Creates the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act
Sponsor: Cunningham
LR Number: 3358S.06P Fiscal Note: 3358-06P.ORG
Committee: Education
Last Action: 5/14/2010 - S Informal Calendar S Bills for Third Reading--SCS for SB 631-Cunningham (In Fiscal Oversight) Journal Page:
Title: SCS SB 631 Calendar Position: 1
Effective Date: August 28, 2010

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Current Bill Summary


SCS/SB 631 – 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 school employee who is required to report to the Children's Division, the employee and the school district superintendent must forward the allegation to the Children's Division within twenty-four hours. Any reports made to the Children's Division must be investigated by the Division in accordance with Division procedures. The school district must not conduct an investigation for purposes of determining whether the allegations should be substantiated. A district may investigate the allegations for purposes of making a decision regarding the accused employee's employment.

A mandated reporter as described in the act, who is a school officer or employee, who fails to report, will be subject to a class A misdemeanor.

SECTION 160.262 - This act authorizes the Office of the Child Advocate to offer mediation services when requested by both parties when child abuse allegations arise in a school setting. No student, parent of a student, school employee, or school district will be required to enter into mediation. If either party does not wish to enter into mediation, mediation will not occur. 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 - By July 1, 2011, every school district must adopt a written policy on information that the district may provide about former employees to other public schools.

The act grants civil immunity to school district employees who are permitted to respond to requests for information regarding former employees under a school district policy and who communicates only the information that the policy directs and who acts in good faith and without malice. If an action is brought against the employee, he or she may request that the Attorney General defend him or her in the suit, except 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 as a result of such allegations or as a result of such allegations being substantiated by the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board 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 or when responding to a potential employer's request for information regarding such employee, the district will be liable for damages and have third-party liability for any legal liability, legal fees, costs, and expenses incurred by the employing district caused by the failure to disclose such information to the employing district.

When a school district employs a person who has been investigated by the Children's Division and for whom there has been a finding of substantiated from such investigation, the district must immediately suspend the person's employment. The district may return the person to his or her employment if the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board's finding that the allegation is substantiated is reversed by a court on appeal. Nothing shall preclude a school district from otherwise lawfully terminating the employment of an employee about whom there has been a finding of unsubstantiated from such an investigation.

A school district that has employed a person for whom there was a finding of substantiated from a Children's Division investigation must disclose the finding of substantiated to any other public school that contacts it for a reference.

SECTION 162.069 - By January 1, 2011, 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 the child's legal custodian, physical custodian, or legal guardian. Teachers also cannot have a nonwork-related website that allows exclusive access with a current or former student.

By January 1, 2011, 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 - A school district's criminal background check on school employees must include a search of publicly available information in an electronic that displays information through a public index or single case display. School districts are responsible for conducting the criminal background check on bus drivers they employ. For drivers employed by a pupil transportation company under contract with the district, the criminal background check must be conducted through the Highway Patrol's criminal record review and must conform to the requirements of the National Child Protection Act of 1993, as amended by the Volunteers for Children Act.

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, 2011, 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.

A school district may conduct a new criminal background check and fingerprint collection for a newly hired employee.

SECTION 210.135 - Third-party reporters of child abuse who report an alleged incident to any employee of a school district 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. For any case previously investigated by the Children's Division for which there was a finding of unsubstantiated, the Children's Division must reconduct its investigation one time at the request of the Office of the Child Advocate if the Child Advocate has reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. However, the Children's Division must not reopen an investigation if a court of law has entered a final judgment on the matter.

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 modifies the current statute of limitations for the prosecution of unlawful sexual offenses involving a person eighteen years of age or younger so that such a prosecution must be commenced within thirty years after the victim reaches the age of eighteen.

This act is similar to SB 41 (2009), HCS/HB 1314 (2008), SB 1212 (2008) and contains provisions similar to HB 1911 (2010), HB 2334 (2008) and HB 2579 (2008).

MICHAEL RUFF