USDOE report found that an estimated 10% of K–12 students will experience sexual misconduct by a school employee by the time they graduate from high school and that a single offender can have up to 73 victims.

AP Dillon:

The USDOE’s “Aiding and Abetting” report looks at how provisions enacted in 2015 during the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) are protecting students from sexual abuse in schools. Specifically, a look at the provisions in Section 8546 related to “aiding and abetting,” have been implemented in State Education Agencies (SEAs).

The report follows the actions earlier this year of U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). The lawmakers sent a letter to USDOE Secretary Miguel Cardona asking him to provide answers regarding states’ failure to comply with Section 8546 of ESEA. 

Key findings included:

• As of October 2020, all 51 states required criminal background checks, and 35 states had adopted at least one other provision that could help prevent school personnel who are known or believed with probable cause to have engaged in sexual misconduct with a student or minor from obtaining new employment in education. 

• Nineteen SEAs reported developing new or revising existing laws and policies in response to Section 8546, and 15 worked with other agencies and organizations to do so. These agencies and organizations include the state board of education and the state legislature. 

• Nearly half of SEAs reported providing guidance and support to help districts implement state laws and policies related to aiding and abetting.

Additionally, the report found that a little over half of states (27) have laws and policies requiring prospective employers to check an applicant’s employment history, certification status, employment eligibility, and/or disciplinary status.

Only 19 of those 27 states have laws or policies requiring employers to request information (e.g., personnel files, employment history) from an applicant’s current and former employers. Only 14 require employers to check an applicant’s eligibility for employment or certification in and across states.

The report also says that two-thirds of the SEAs (33) document district complaints and/or incidents of sexual misconduct, eight SEAs didn’t document it and seven SEAs didn’t know whether or not their SEA documented complaints and/or incidents of sexual misconduct.