Senate passes Haler bill to protect all students from sexual predators at school
‘This is a bill that we have to have this year,’ says Haler
The Washington State Senate voted unanimously today to pass legislation to protect all students from sexual predators at school.
Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, said he was pleased that one of his top legislative priorities of the session is now one step closer to becoming law.
“We’ve had to work hard to get this legislation through the process,” Haler said. “There is a lot of focus and attention right now on the budget, jobs and taxes — and rightly so. But this is a bill that we just have to have this year. We can’t let this loophole exist for even one more year.”
Haler’s bill, House Bill 1385, closes a loophole that technically allows teachers to have sexual relations with students over 18 years-old, the age of consent in Washington state.
The bill includes language to protect students up to 21 years of age from sexual predators employed by the school district. The new language would apply to both first and second degree sexual misconduct with a minor.
“I’m happy the Legislature sees the validity and importance of protecting our students from being preyed upon by school personnel, no matter their age,” Haler said. “The parent/teacher relationship is a special one, filled with trust and the expectancy of proper behavior at all times. When that trust is violated it literally destroys lives.”
Haler said the Richland School Board was instrumental in bringing this issue to him after a recent incident involving a student and a Richland High School music teacher.
The 2009 Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on April 26.
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###Washington State House Republican Communications