Rep. Behning and Sen. Merritt Offer Amendment to Further Protect Children

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Thursday, February 25, 2016 10:22 am

Rep. Behning and Sen. Merritt Offer Amendment to Further Protect Children

 STATEHOUSE (Feb. 25, 2016) – State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) and Rep. Robert Behning (R-Indianapolis) offered an amendment to Senate Bill 334 to further protect Indiana’s children. The House Committee on Education unanimously adopted Merritt and Behning’s amendment and the bill passed committee 8-4.

Merritt and Behning’s amendment includes a “Child Protection Index” (CPI) check as a condition of employment for individuals likely to have direct, ongoing contact with children during their employment at a school. A CPI check would indicate whether that person has substantiated history of child abuse or neglect without disclosing confidential details about the case. 

The amendment also says that if a school receives a reference request from another school regarding a current or former employee, then that school must disclose any known incident where the employee was the perpetrator in a substantiated report of child abuse or neglect.  The identity of the victims and their families in confidentiality agreements will be kept anonymous. 

Merritt and Behning’s amendment also calls for a study committee to further examine ways to reduce sexual misconduct in schools by working with the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) and the Department of Education (DOE). He noted the committee assigned to study this amendment will do everything necessary to keep children safe. 

“Children’s safety is our number-one priority,” Merritt said. “This will help schools hire the best employees possible and avoid putting our children in danger.”

Behning echoed Merritt’s comments, saying the CPI check is necessary to keeping kids safe.

“Looking further into ways to keep children safe is my goal,” Behning said. “I want to ensure that all schools complete a thorough background check for all employees that interact with students.”

Merritt and Behning added that many schools are already using a CPI check, and this amendment would bring consistency to the criteria used to hire teachers in Indiana. The amendment comes after a local high school basketball coach was the subject of a child pornography and exploitation investigation.

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State Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) represents

portions of Marion and Hendricks counties.