Massachusetts lawmakers are set to consider a bill that would better protect students from predatory teachers.
It’s an issue the NBC Boston Investigators have been digging into. We found dozens of local teachers who were disciplined for inappropriate relationships or contact with their students in recent years.
The bill is scheduled for a State House hearing on Tuesday and would strengthen what advocates call outdated and dangerous laws that are currently on the books.
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Right now, it’s legal for a teacher to have sex with a student 16 or older - so long as it’s consenual.
But this bill would make it illegal for a teacher or other youth worker to have sexual contact with any teen 19 years old or younger who is under their authority and still in high school.
It also would require all school employees, volunteers and others to be trained in preventing, responding to and reporting child sexual abuse.
And it would ban confidentiality agreements to prevent what’s commonly referred to as "passing the trash."
It’s an issue that has made headlines at several private schools lately.
One school lets a predatory teacher leave quietly to avoid a scandal - sometimes even writing them a recommendation to a new school. That new school is none the wiser and is potentially exposing its students to a predator.
A 2015 federal law requires states to ban the passing the trash, but only five have. Massachusetts is not one of them.
The bill is being heard by the Joint Committee on Education on Tuesday.