Kentucky House passes bill to bolster disclosure of sexual misconduct allegations against teachers

Published 3:24 pm Thursday, February 8, 2024

By Bruce Shreiner, The Associated Press

FRANKFORT  — The Kentucky House overwhelmingly passed legislation Thursday to bolster disclosure requirements meant to reveal allegations of past misconduct when teachers seek jobs in other school districts.

The measure won 95-0 House passage to advance to the Senate. The bill’s lead sponsor is Republican Rep. James Tipton, who chairs the House Education Committee. The goal is to make it more difficult for teachers with allegations of sexual misconduct to move from one district to another.

The bill strives to do that by making sure Kentucky school administrators are aware when a teacher applying for a job in their district has been accused of such misconduct elsewhere.

“This is a piece of legislation that I honestly wish we didn’t have to deal with,” Tipton said. “And I’m going to say that 99.9%-plus of our dedicated teachers and those individuals who work in our school systems are there to support our children, to help them in their education.”

The legislation would apply those “small number of individuals” who face allegations of misconduct against students, he said. Between 2016 and 2021, 118 teachers in Kentucky lost their license due to sexual misconduct.

The bill would prevent school districts from entering into nondisclosure agreements related to teacher misconduct involving a student. Applicants for jobs would have to disclose whether they were the subject of any allegation or investigation within the past 12 months,

When considering a job applicant, districts would have to contact each district that previously employed the person for a reference check. Previous employers would have to disclose any allegation, investigation or disciplinary action related to abusive conduct while the applicant worked for that district.

If an investigation concluded that a misconduct allegation was false, all related records would be removed from the teacher’s personnel file.

The legislation is a response to a series of stories by the Lexington Herald-Leader that focused on teacher sexual misconduct. The newspaper uncovered instances where teachers who had previously been accused of sexual misconduct moved to other school districts and were accused again of misconduct.