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Sunday, May 26, 2024
SB2475 on Governor’s Desk: Creates Database of School Child Molesters
By News Release @ 3:05 AM :: 592 Views :: Education K-12

STUDENT SAFETY BILL AWAITING GOVERNOR'S REVIEW

from Senate Majority Caucus, May 24, 2024

Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – Recent investigations and reports of sexual abuse, physical assault, and other forms of harassment committed against students at public and private preschools and K-12 campuses throughout the State have exposed a loophole allowing keiki to be harmed. Predatory school personnel involved in these offenses have been reported as switching schools to harm new children by taking advantage of the inability of educational institutions to share information with one another.

This year, to close this loophole and prevent these individuals from serving in any capacity that requires interaction with or close proximity to students, the Hawaiʻi Legislature unanimously passed Senate Bill 2475 CD1. SB2475 CD1 creates the Harm to Students registry for all preschools and K-12 educational institutions within the State. With the goal of preventing predatory individuals from subsequently gaining employment in any other public or private preschools and K-12 institutions in Hawaiʻi, this registry will contain information on school employees, contractors, or volunteers for whom, as a result of an investigation, a final finding has been issued that the individual has inflicted harm on a student.

“The most important role of the Legislature is protecting our keiki. Our students have a right to pursue their education in safe, secure, and healthy learning environments statewide, and closing this loophole helps ensure that right,” said Senator Michelle N. Kidani, who serves as the Senate Vice President and Chair of Senate Committee on Education (District 18, Mililani Town, Waipiʻo Gentry, Crestview, Waikele, portion of Waipahu, Village Park, Royal Kunia). “Thanks to collaboration and support from our Department of Education and other educators and associations, SB2475 CD1 will make our schools a safer place.”

During the legislative session, drafts of SB2475 received support from a wide cross section of education professionals, including the Department of Education, the State Public Charter School Commission, the Hawaiʻi Teachers Standards Board, the Early Learning Board, the Executive Office on Early Learning, Kamehameha Schools, Punahou School, the Hawaiʻi Association of Independent Schools, and Hawaiʻi Council of Private Schools.

"The registry created under SB2475 would be an invaluable tool for both public and private schools, allowing us to share critical information and make informed employment decisions that prioritize the safety and protection of our children," said Superintendent Keith Hayashi. “We are very appreciative to the Education Committees and the Legislature for supporting this bill, as it would significantly enhance our ability to maintain healthy and secure learning environments." 

SB2475 CD1 is currently being considered by Governor Green to be signed into law. If approved by the Governor, SB2475 CD1 would go into effect on July 1, 2024.

SB2475: Text, Status

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