LETTER: Student protection act necessary to keep children safe

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 | 11:53 a.m. CDT

The opportunity to safeguard our state's children from pedophiles and sex abusers in the school districts should not be a topic for debate, but rather embraced as a rock-solid tenet of a civilized society.

However, SB-41 (The Amy Hestir Student Protection Act), that was sponsored by Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, and designed to ensure the safety of our children in public schools, is being stalled in the state's education department by Chairperson Sen. Rob Mayer. Why? Who is Sen. Mayer protecting from these unthinkable and barbaric acts?

Ms. Hestir courageously told lawmakers in March about how she was raped by a junior high teacher in Moberly for two years starting when she was 12 years old. She is now 41. No criminal charges were filed, and the assailant remains a teacher in a Missouri school district in another city.

The sad fact is, there are numerous cases in Missouri that are similar to Ms. Hestir's. Independent counselors and clergy are only too aware of these past and current incidents. But little or nothing has been done. Lives are destroyed at the hands of these perverted district employees, and a blind eye is being turned. Typically these allegations are swept under the carpets in administrators' offices.

Missouri must implement proven methods that halt or thwart these type of incidents. Those standards provide by law that students can alert a trusted teacher or counselor, who in turn is obligated to report details to law enforcement and a thorough, unbiased investigation is conducted. In addition, state law must ensure that thorough background checks on all educators in public schools must be conducted, and offenders must be prosecuted.

Oppression and intimidation by power brokers must stop or Missouri will forever be the laughingstock of America as just another backward state that is no better than third world countries. No longer will administrators with hidden agendas be allowed to interfere with due process of law to prevent sexual abuse by predators of student populations.

This bill is too serious to ignore, and Sen. Mayer needs to face the public that has entrusted him to oversee the safety and quality education of our children. True, you cannot legislate morals, but you can prevent sexual abuse of children in public schools.

Legislators who fail the trust of our children and put them at risk at the hands of predators need not seek re-election.

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