News law attempts to stop school districts from hiding misconduct investigations from other districts
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A new Iowa law will try to stop school districts from entering into resignation agreements, which hide allegations of misconduct from future employers.
It’s one of several changes to the procedures districts will have to follow once a school receives a complaint about a staff member. Our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team found districts commonly allow staff members under investigation for sexual or physical assault to resign, rather than face a termination process.
Documents, which i9 received through open records requests, show those staff members often resign in exchange for an agreement to not give a negative reference to other employees and often a payout.
House File 540 stops school districts from entering into these types of agreements along with requiring school districts to develop a process to report and completely investigate the complaint. It also requires officials to hand over all documents and information to the Board of Education Examiners, which is the state agency that oversees teacher licenses.
The new law also requires school districts to contact and document an applicant’s previous employer and those references. It also gives immunity to school districts from any civil suit from discussing g an incident, past performance or allegation leading to discipline or adverse employment action like a resignation.
House File 540 also requires mandatory reporters to report child abuse if the child is younger than 18-years-old. The requirement only applied to children younger than 12-years-old.
State lawmakers passed a law in 2017 requiring public employers to release the reasons and rationale if somebody’s employment ended if somebody resigns to avoid termination. But, public entities are able to avoid this law if the employee resigned before the investigation was complete. Lawmakers also tried to pass a similar bill last year, but failed.
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