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Rokita Statement: H.R. 2083, the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act

A report released by the Government Accountability Office in December 2010 examined 15 cases where individuals with histories of sexual misconduct were hired or retained as teachers, support staff, volunteers and contractors. In 11 of these 15 cases, those individuals had previously targeted children.

Despite the fact that states have varying policies intended to protect children from sexual predators in schools, the GAO determined the policies were largely inconsistent and insufficient. According to the report, states don’t consistently perform pre-employment background checks, and when they do conduct background checks, they are not always fingerprint-based or connected to the national criminal database.

There is widespread agreement on both sides of the aisle that more must be done to protect students. We have worked with our colleagues to advance legislation that will ensure every school employee – from cafeteria workers, administrators, and janitors to teachers, principals, and librarians – is subject to a complete background check that includes the FBI fingerprint identification system and the National Sex Offender Registry.

Today we have an opportunity to finish the fight by sending the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act to the Senate.

H.R. 2083 will require states that receive funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to have policies and practices in place that ensure each school employee is subject to a complete national criminal background check. A similar provision offered by my colleagues from Pennsylvania, Mr. Fitzpatrick and Mr. Meehan, was included in the House-passed Student Success Act.

The Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act is commonsense legislation that will help ensure students in schools across the country are safe from sexual criminals. I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 2083, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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