Westrom's bill would keep parents in the loop about abuse at schoolA bill co-authored by Representative Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake would ensure parents are informed if their child is maltreated at school.
A bill co-authored by Representative Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake would ensure parents are informed if their child is maltreated at school.
The bill (H.F. 3157) unanimously passed a committee hearing Wednesday and will now receive further review from a policy division.
Several Concordia University-St. Paul students hosted a press conference with Westrom, a bipartisan group of legislators and others Wednesday.
The students said the impetus for this initiative came from watching a TV news report regarding a Minnesota 6-year-old who was maltreated by his teacher eight separate times, yet the victim’s parents were not informed until nearly 18 months later.
Current state law does not require that a school district notify parents when a teacher is being investigated for abusing their child.
In this case, it was Kyle Herman’s parents – Shawn and Lora – who were not informed. Kyle has Down syndrome and was unable to tell his family what was happening.
Kyle’s parents said he acted out, but they were at a loss for answers until it later was revealed the teacher to whom they entrusted their child was abusing him.
Even after the investigation, the Hermans were not informed until more than a year had passed.
This new law would instead require schools to report the investigation results within 10 days.
“This is one of those instances where people hear about an issue and can’t fathom something isn’t already in place to protect victims and their families,” Westrom said. “It’s just unconscionable.”
The new law also would require schools to report incidents of mistreatment, mandate that teachers disciplined for maltreatment of students take a mental health assessment and allow for license revocation for teachers who are repeat offenders.
“This bill can’t undo damage that has already been done, but it can at least keep parents in the loop when something so horrible has happened, such as what happened to little Kyle Herman,” Westrom said.”