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SB-709 School employment: Sexual Abuse-Free Education (SAFE) Act.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 02/22/2019 09:00 PM
SB709:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 709


Introduced by Senator Morrell

February 22, 2019


An act to add Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 45600) to Part 25 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Education Code, relating to school employment.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 709, as introduced, Morrell. School employment: Sexual Abuse-Free Education (SAFE) Act.
(1) Existing law establishes a system of public elementary and secondary schools in this state and authorizes local educational agencies throughout the state to operate schools and provide instruction to pupils in kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive. Existing law prohibits a person who has been convicted of a violent or serious felony from being hired by a school district in a position requiring certification qualifications or supervising positions requiring certification qualifications. Existing law also prohibits a school district from employing or retaining in employment a person who has been convicted, or who has been convicted following a plea of nolo contendere, of any sex offense, as defined.
This bill, the Sexual Abuse-Free Education (SAFE) Act, would prohibit a school entity, defined as a school district, county office of education, charter school, or private or parochial school, from knowingly hiring a person as an employee or independent contractor in a position involving direct contact with children, as defined, if the person was determined by a current or former employer, as the result of an investigation, to be responsible for an act of child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child, as defined, unless the allgations of child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child were subsequently determined to be false. The bill would require an applicant to provide, on a standard form developed by the State Department of Education, specified information about the applicant’s employment history and allegations, investigations, or findings of child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child by the applicant to the school entity before the school entity makes an offer of employment with direct contact with children.
The bill would require a school entity to obtain from the current and former employers of the applicant specified information, including, among other things, whether the applicant was the subject of a substantiated investigation, as defined, concerning child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child by an employer, state licensing agency, law enforcement agency, or child protective services agency. The bill would immunize a school entity, school entity official, or other employer from civil or criminal liability for the disclosure of information pursuant to these provisions, unless the information was disclosed with the knowledge that it was false or misleading. The bill would make a school entity, school entity official, or other employer civilly liable upon a determination by the trier of fact of a failure to disclose information, or disclosing misleading information that concealed, or was a substantial factor in causing, child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child.
The bill would prohibit a collective bargaining agreement, termination agreement, severance agreement, or other contract entered into after January 1, 2020, from preventing the disclosure of any information related to child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child, affecting the ability of the school entity to report child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child, or requiring the school entity to expunge information relating to child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child from any document, unless the allegations of child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child are determined to be false.
Because the bill would require school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to comply with additional requirements before hiring new employees, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
(2) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 45600) is added to Part 25 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Education Code, to read:
CHAPTER  6. Sexual Abuse-Free Education (SAFE) Act

45600.
 This chapter shall be known, and may be cited, as the Sexual Abuse-Free Education (SAFE) Act.

45601.
 (a) (1) A school entity shall not knowingly hire a person as an employee or independent contractor in a position involving direct contact with children if the person was determined by a current or former employer, as the result of an investigation, to be responsible for an act of child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child, unless the allegations of child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child were subsequently determined to be false pursuant to the investigation.
(2) Notwithstanding any other law, a school entity shall comply with the disclosure requirements described in this section before hiring an employee or independent contractor in a position involving direct contact with children.
(b) Before a school entity makes an offer of employment to an applicant for a position involving direct contact with children, the school entity shall require the applicant to provide, on a standard form developed by the department, all of the following information:
(1) The name, address, telephone number, and other relevant contact information for the applicant’s current employer, all school entities where the applicant was formerly employed, and all former employers where the applicant had direct contact with children.
(2) A written authorization for the current and former employers of the applicant to disclose information and release records about allegations, investigations, or findings of child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child by the applicant. The authorization shall release the current and former employers from liability for disclosing that information or releasing those records.
(3) A written statement that includes all of the following:
(A) Whether the applicant was the subject of a substantiated investigation concerning child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child by an employer, state licensing agency, law enforcement agency, or child protective services agency. An investigation of child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child where the allegations were determined to be true.
(B) Whether the applicant was disciplined, was discharged, was asked to resign, resigned, did not have the applicant’s employment renewed, or was separated from employment while under investigation for child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child.
(C) Whether the applicant had a license or certification suspended or revoked while allegations of child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child were pending or due to a finding of child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child.
(D) Whether the applicant was accused of child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child and a substantiated investigation was not initiated or completed.
(c) (1) When a school entity receives the information described in subdivision (b), the school entity shall conduct a review of the employers identified by the applicant and obtain the following information from those employers:
(A) The dates of employment of the applicant.
(B) A written statement that includes all of the following:
(i) Whether the applicant was the subject of a substantiated investigation concerning child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child by an employer, state licensing agency, law enforcement agency, or child protective services agency. An investigation of child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child where the allegations were determined to be true.
(ii) Whether the applicant was disciplined, was discharged, was asked to resign, resigned, did not have the applicant’s employment renewed, or was separated from employment while under investigation for child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child.
(iii) Whether the applicant had a license or certification suspended or revoked while allegations of child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child were pending or due to a finding of child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child.
(iv) Whether the applicant was accused of child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child and a substantiated investigation was not initiated or completed.
(2) (A) A current or former employer of an applicant shall disclose to the school entity that is considering employment of the applicant, on a standard form developed by the department, all of the information described in paragraph (1) no later than 20 days after it receives the request from the school entity. The completed form shall be made available to the public.
(B) If the information received from a current or former employer of the applicant indicates that the applicant was subject to an allegation, investigation, or disciplinary action relating to child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child, the school entity shall request the current or former employer to provide additional information and all relevant records relating to the incident. The current or former employer shall provide the requested information to the school entity no later than 60 days after it receives the request.
(d) For purposes of a substitute employee, the requirements described in this section shall apply only to the initial hiring of the substitute employee by a school entity.
(e) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to require a school entity to comply with the requirements described in this section when an existing employee of the school entity transfers to a different position within the school entity.
(f) For purposes of this chapter, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) “Child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child” means either of the following:
(A) “Child abuse or neglect,” as defined in Section 11165.6 of the Penal Code.
(B) A “sex offense,” as defined in Section 44010, committed against a pupil.
(2) “Direct contact with children” means the possibility of care, supervision, guidance, or control of children, or routine interaction with children.
(3) “School entity” means a school district, county office of education, charter school, or private or parochial school.
(4) “Substantiated investigation” means a fair and objective inquiry consistent with the principles of due process, which will include the right to specific notice of the charges against the accused, an explanation of the employer’s evidence, and an opportunity to respond to the charges before being deprived of the property interest of the accused’s employment.

45602.
 (a) A school entity, school entity official, or other employer shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability for the disclosure of information pursuant to this chapter unless the information was disclosed with the knowledge that it was false or misleading.
(b) A school entity, school entity official, or other employer who knowingly, carelessly, or negligently fails to comply with the requirements of this section may be civilly liable upon a determination by the trier of fact of a material failure to disclose information, or disclosing misleading information that concealed allegations of, or was a material factor in causing, child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child.

45603.
 A collective bargaining agreement, termination agreement, severance agreement, or other contract entered into after January 1, 2020, shall not prevent the disclosure of any information related to child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child, affect the ability of the school entity to report child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child, or require the school entity to expunge information relating to child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child from any document, unless the allegations of child abuse or sexual misconduct with a child are determined to be false.

SEC. 2.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.