Confidentiality Agreements Can Protect Abusive Teachers. Some States Are Banning Them.

March 8, 2019 AT 7:40 AM

By Brian Witte

After high-profile sexual misconduct cases in schools, Maryland took a step Thursday toward joining a growing number of states enacting legislation to prevent teachers with records of misconduct from moving school-to-school.

The Maryland House of Delegates voted 140-0 to ban nondisclosure agreements involving sexual abuse for school employees who have direct contact with children. The measure, which now goes to the state's Senate, also would require prospective school employers to conduct a thorough review of applicants' employment history.

"Child sex abuse is a horrible thing to acknowledge. It's so much easier to turn a blind eye to it. That's been failing our children for generations, and so we're not going to turn a blind eye to it," bill sponsor Del. C.T. Wilson, a survivor of child sexual abuse who has spoken of his experience while advocating for laws to protect children, said in a recent interview. "I'm going to do my best to make it as public as I can. If we air out our dirty laundry, we can clean it tomorrow."

Several states have passed legislation in recent years to stop what supporters of the measure often refer to as "passing the trash." Laws were enacted in New Jersey last year, Nevada in 2017, Connecticut in 2016 and Pennsylvania in 2014. Other states, including Washington, Oregon and Missouri, added similar laws even earlier.

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