Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act

Stop “Passing the Trash” into Pa.

Sen. Toomey has introduced a bipartisan bill, the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act, to prevent abusers from reaching children in the first place. In addition to banning the dangerous practice of “passing the trash” from outside states into Pennsylvania, Sen. Toomey’s bill requires any school receiving federal funds to perform background checks on all employees and contractors who have unsupervised access to children. Amazingly, 12 states do not require background checks for these coaches, teachers’ aides, and substitute teachers who are often hired as contractors and who have virtually unfettered access to vulnerable children. The background checks must be thorough, covering two state and two federal databases, and must be periodically updated.

Many states do not check the FBI’s national database, and Pennsylvania’s background checks do not include the National Sex Offender Registry. Under Sen. Toomey’s bipartisan legislation, a school may not hire a person if he or she has committed certain crimes, including any sexual or violent crime against a child.

Fortunately, the Pennsylvania General Assembly has acted and strengthened our state child protection laws. Specifically, the General Assembly passed a bill which bans the practice of “passing the trash” within state boundaries. “Passing the trash” is the reprehensible practice of quietly dismissing or allowing a school employee suspected of a sexual crime to resign, while still providing a letter of recommendation and failing to alert other schools to the employee’s misconduct.