Newly Passed Senate Bill Tackles Public School Safety

Everywhere you look, more and more headlines seem to be popping up; examples of teachers behaving badly and victimizing the students they are supposed to be educating.

A new bill, passed in the Senate just Tuesday, could provide an added layer of protection for youth across the state. Among other things, Senate Bill 9 would require all public school employees to be fingerprinted for a national criminal background check. It would bar public schools from hiring anyone with sex offenses or crimes against children, and a flag would be placed on teacher files if allegations surfaced against them.

Angela Jenkins with TISD says the bill is a good move toward better protection for students.

"Measures we have in place are wonderful, and any added measure that shows that we're protecting the students is an added benefit," says Jenkins.

Jenkins says there are some new security measure in the bill, but she says TISD has been doing it's own background checks on employees long before they were mandated by the state in 2003. That's not the case in all Texas school districts.

The senator who introduced the bill says the backgrounds of more than 200,000 public school employees hired before that date have gone unevaluated.

If passed, the state says they would foot the bill to check teachers who have not had their backgrounds reviewed. New teachers and other employees would have to pay for it themselves.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: