NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee has reported at least four separate cases involving school personnel and sexual abuse of students.
Reports show Tennessee with an F following a national investigation of educator sexual misconduct in schools that looked at each state's effort to reduce the chances that an employee with a history of sexual misconduct could move from one school to another without repercussions.
The Comptroller's Officer of research and Education Accountability (OREA) has examined Tennessee's relevant laws, policies, and practices to determine whether there are areas of risk or weakness that could improve.
The report focuses on the following areas:
- hiring practices for school personnel in Tennessee, including information about other states’ practices;
- the state’s records concerning teacher licenses and the actions taken against them for incidents of misconduct;
- a provision within the federal Every Student Succeeds Act that requires state or district action to prevent any teacher who has committed sexual misconduct involving a student from being able to seek employment in another school district;
- relevant state laws and school district policies, particularly about making school employees aware of expectations and responsibilities; and
- what children are taught in schools concerning personal safety
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Here are a few things found after the report:
School districts in Tennessee bear the primary responsibility for ensuring that educators and other school personnel hired are cleared to work with children. Some other states place this responsibility at the state level when individuals seek teaching licenses.
Inconsistencies at the State Board of Education in organizing and maintaining records concerning teacher misconduct could negatively affect the accuracy of data in the database that tracks the status of teacher licenses. The State Board is already working to improve its method of recordkeeping but may lack adequate staffing and capacity.
To read the full report, visit the OREA's website at http://comptroller.tn.gov/orea.
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