State Sen. Anthony H. Williams’ (D-W. Phila.) fight to prevent school districts from “passing” teachers suspected of sexual misconduct to other schools instead of the police packed new muscle when US Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and State Attorney General Kathleen Kane joined the conversation.
Williams and Kane teamed up with Toomey at Polyclinic Community Health Center in Harrisburg to endorse the federal lawmaker’s legislative effort in Washington, D.C.
Toomey’s bill mirrors Sen. Williams’ SB 46, which has been unanimously approved by Pennsylvania’s Senate and would close the loophole that now allows school districts to hire employees who have an undisclosed history of investigations and dismissals for abuse or sexual misconduct.
“People who work in education across Pennsylvania and throughout the United States are allowed to leave jobs in quiet disgrace, but because there is no law to prevent them from finding new employment in another district, they find new jobs in new schools and continue their old, sick and dangerous behaviors,” Williams said. “Our children have been victimized and traumatized by the worst offenders. Some students have been killed by these people.”
In Harrisburg, a grand jury’s investigation revealed that Susquehanna Township School District Administrator Shawn Sharkey had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female student. Sharkey’s records from his previous employment with the School District of Philadelphia reportedly contained several “red flags” that, if shared with Susquehanna Township, would have prevented his hiring.
Dauphin Co. District Attorney Ed Marsico has urged the adoption of Williams’ “Pass the Trash” legislation, as well as Toomey’s bill to create the “Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act.”