This study collected data from representatives of state departments of education, asking whether they were aware of the provision of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) called Prohibition on Aiding and Abetting Sexual Abuse, which is intended to eliminate the rehiring by a school district of any K-12 teacher who has previously sexually abused a students from pursuing another teaching job without any employment records of the teacher's offense.
Overall, researchers found that just four states had fully complied; several others were in the process of creating relevant policy and legislation, and a few began the process in response to researchers' queries; however, 39 states had no plans to create relevant legislation or policy, either because they were unaware of the provision or because they believed, erroneously, that existing laws fulfilled the ESSA mandate. "Passing the trash" is clearly an unacceptable practice, yet research suggests it still occurs, and state-level laws and policies to prevent it are slow to emerge. The lack of knowledge or awareness exhibited by many state representatives suggests a need to educate policymakers and education leaders about the definition of aiding and abetting sexual offenders, the consequences it can have for vulnerable students, and the legal provisions states can enact to prohibit it. (publisher abstract modified)