This week Congressman Chris Lee and I introduced the Student Protection Act (HR 781), a measure to protect children from repeat sexual predators within school systems. This is a problem that has generated headlines nationwide. An investigation by the Associated Press found thousands of cases in which minor students had been sexually abused by teachers or other trusted persons within their schools. In some cases, people convicted of these crimes have been able to relocate to other school system only to repeat their behavior.

I first introduced this measure in the 110th Congress, so it is past time we moved forward with it. Let’s call these cases what they are: sexual assaults. Now, before we read about another teacher assaulting yet another student. Before another family has to deal with the emotional and psychological damage caused. Before another classroom or school is shaken by another breach of trust. Now -- not later -- let us give schools the tools they need to keep repeat sexual offenders from preying on students within the very institutions that should be a safe-haven for our children.

The Student Protection Act requires uniform reporting requirements for eligible school system employees accused of sexual misconduct against a student, consistent with established guidelines for reporting child abuse; it requires a central body in each state to be responsible for receiving and investigating allegations of sexual misconduct by school employees; and it creates a nationwide database of school employees sanctioned by the state for sexual misconduct – thus enabling state, local, and private school officials to ensure offenders remain out of the classroom.

Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children said, "This Act brings long-overdue recognition to the problem of child sexual exploitation in the school system."

More than a dozen states have considered legislation to strengthen laws for the screening and reporting of sexual misconduct by educators. However, without adopting systematic policies and procedures at the national level all states remain vulnerable when hiring educators from states with mediocre reporting procedures and lackluster ethical standards. Our classrooms deserve much more than a piecemeal effort that leaves our nation’s school children exposed to predators.