State Representative seeks update of law on sexual exploitation of students by educators

DES MOINES — A legislator who’s worked to pass state laws to crack down on the sexual exploitation of students by school employees is proposing more protections. Educators are “mandatory reporters” that are to let law enforcement know when they suspect an adult working in a school is abusing a student, but Representative Megan Jones of Sioux Rapids says if a student is over the age of 12, reporting of such cases is discretionary — meaning it’s not required.

“That just mind-boggling, I think, to a lot of people because if this student has experienced sexual abuse, sexual exploitation in a school district one would only assume their age is irrelevant,” Jones says. “This is inappropriate behavior.”

Jones is drafting a policy to require schools to report suspected sexual exploitation of students of any age, including all of the students in high school.

“I mean, it’s a black eye on the school district when you have to make these reports, but at the same time I think one problem we have is this ‘dance of the lemons,’ where a teacher or school employee becomes disassociated with a school district and then they just go on to a different school district and then we have the same problems happening again, so let’s clean this up,” Jones says. “Let’s get rid of the lemons and move on.”

Two House committees have been working on legislation to address the issue, according to Jones.