Teachers and other employees that work in an educational setting are often trusted by students. Most often, teachers and other school workers do their best to protect students and work toward helping them thrive. Unfortunately, some individuals take an unscrupulous approach and subject students to sexual abuse and other misconduct that can have lasting effects on those students’ lives. Recently, Governor of New Mexico Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill that will work to better protect students from such abuse.
The bill reportedly includes changes that work as preventative measures as well as responsive measures to address issues that have taken place. The following information provides details on the contents of the bill:
- The Public Education Department is required to maintain and update monthly a list of individuals reported for ethical misconduct.
- School boards are required to follow child abuse reports.
- All school personnel must report child abuse and neglect.
- Superintendents and other parties associating with governing schools are allowed to publicly state why a teacher or other staff member was terminated from a job.
Additionally, the bill requires that individuals associated with the school, such as direct employees, contractors or volunteers, report any previous ethical or sexual misconduct. It also requires that former school employers provide this information to prospective employers. The latter requirement is especially important as it prevents predators from leaving a job at one school only to be hired at another school.
Children are often in vulnerable positions, and when someone in a position of power or authority, like a teacher, takes advantage of that vulnerability, that person should be held accountable. Far too often, victims of sexual abuse do not receive the justice they deserve in such cases. While this bill may help prevent future instances of abuse in New Mexico schools, it is important that survivors understand that they have legal options for addressing abuse they have already suffered.