February 20, 2018 10:41 PM
On their first day back at the Capitol, state lawmakers took steps Tuesday to ensure that teachers accused of sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior with students are investigated by law enforcement.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle introduced bills that would require the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board, previously known as the Board of Teaching, to immediately report such allegations to police.
A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation last fall found the board had failed to report at least 17 teachers dating back to the 1980s. The board did not consider itself a mandated reporter during that time.
The findings outraged county prosecutors, the governor and state lawmakers like Rep. Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis.
"Apparently (5 EYEWITNESS NEWS) discovered a hole, and we need to close that gap to make sure these allegations get reported appropriately, in a timely fashion, investigated and dealt with," Davnie said.
A bill he filed shortly after the session specifically lists members or employees of the board as mandated reporters.
A previous law change that went into effect last year required the board to report teachers to law enforcement only if it took disciplinary action after conducting its own internal investigation.
Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, introduced a Republican version of the bill that would no longer allow the board to conduct its own investigation before alerting police.
"We want to make sure those things are investigated immediately (and) there is no lag time in that," Loon said.
Alex Liuzzi, the board's interim executive director, said in a statement, "The board has an aggressive legislative agenda to clarify and strengthen teacher ethics law. We welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with legislators to ensure the teacher discipline process continues to keep student safety at its center."
Updated: February 20, 2018 10:41 PM
Created: February 20, 2018 04:45 PM
Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company