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Predators: Justice should sign bill protecting children

For generations, the easy way for county school systems to deal with faculty and staff members accused of abusing children is to allow them to resign. Make the problem quietly go away; end of story (for the school system anyway) — unless, as has happened, the predator moves elsewhere and victimizes someone else.

A bill approved unanimously in both chambers of the West Virginia Legislature would go a long way in shutting off that escape valve for predators. Among other things, it would require their conduct be investigated fully, even if they resign. It also would mandate firm action by state officials.

Among the changes in the bill is that it adds “to reasons for which a teacher’s certificate or license is automatically revoked,” and “defining grooming a student or minor.” Giving everyone a clear understanding of what the law means by “grooming a student or minor” is essential, and administrators much be certain every teacher is familiar with the law.

In the wake of scandals from organizations ranging from the Catholic Church to the Boy Scouts, the public has made clear they will no longer tolerate organizations that protect predators rather than protecting children — and rightly so.

Gov. Jim Justice should sign the bill, HB 4378 into law — and state Department of Education officials should ensure it is followed to the letter.

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