By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4) – If you’re a parent, you want to know if an employee at your child’s school has been charged with a serious crime. But, in Colorado, schools aren’t required to tell you.
Some lawmakers say they should be.
“Front and center is we have a gap in our system. We have seen news story after news story,” Representative Brittany Pettersen told a committee.
Pettersen and Representative Paul Lundeen are sponsors of a bill that would require parental notification in cases where charges against a school employee involve drugs, violence or sexual misconduct and the employee has been bound over for trial, meaning a judge has found probable cause. Schools would have two days from the judge’s decision to issue the notice.
“There have been any number of cases where information is trailing,” Lundeen said. “The reality is people knew and they should have passed that information out,” says Lundeen.
He says an estimated 50 school employees every year in Colorado are charged with crimes that put students at risk and while some schools tell parents, others don’t.
The bill also requires parents be notified whether the case results in a conviction or acquittal.
“I believe the schools, the administrations, and even the government to some degree want to protect the teachers,” Ted Mische, who was among the parents who came to testify, said.
Mische’s 14-year-old daughter Megan hopes early notification prevents further victimization and helps identify additional victims.
“If you know, you can help friends,” Mische said. ” You can go to the counselor or principal or something like that.”
While associations representing school boards, administrators and teachers in the state aren’t supporting the bill, they aren’t opposing it either. One of the concerns is that schools may not know right away if an employee has been charged. A House committee delayed a vote on the bill to work on that.