A recent Chicago Tribune investigative report uncovered 523 cases of sexual violence committed against students who attended Chicago Public Schools (CPS) between 2008-2017. In many instances, school officials who were required by law to report the suspected or alleged abuse, failed to do so. Today, State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) filed legislation that would provide for the immediate suspension or revocation of the license of any Illinois educator or other school district employee who negligently fails to report an instance of suspected child abuse or neglect.
While the statutes already provide for dismissal of a school employee who willfully fails to report suspected abuse, through HB 5923, acts of negligent failure to report would be added to the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act.
“In cases when abuse is suspected in a school, teachers and other employees are mandatory reporters,” said Reick, who sits on the Illinois House of Representative’s Elementary & Secondary Education- Curriculum & Policies Committee. “Current laws only provide a path for removal of those who willfully make a choice not to report suspected abuse. My bill expands the ability to remove an employee to also include those displaying simple negligence. Whether the failure to report is willful or not, it is inexcusable, and school boards need broad tools at their disposal to dismiss those who fail to fulfill their responsibilities as mandatory reporters.”
During a June 20 joint hearing before the House and Senate K-12 Education Committees, Reick asked Stephanie Jones, General Council for the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), if adding “negligent failure to report” to the list of reasons why an employee could have their license suspended or revoked would be beneficial. Jones said it would be extremely helpful.
“We don’t want these child predators to get off the hook due to a technicality,” Reick said. “Failure to report is a criminal offense, and this complete failure to protect the children in their care should lead to an immediate suspension or firing. I have no doubt that these horrific crimes against children are not limited to CPS. My bill would grant broader dismissal authority statewide when mandatory reporting requirements are ignored.”
Reick expects the bill to be heard during the November veto session. If approved and signed, its provisions would take effect immediately.