Sarah Fowler-Arthur (R-Geneva-on-the-Lake) and State Reps. Adam C. Miller (D-Columbus) introduced bipartisan legislation that would require schools to file a report with the Ohio Department of Education regarding teachers who retire under threat of investigation for misconduct. Under current law, schools are only required to report when a teacher resigns under threat of termination or nonrenewal of a contract while under investigation.
“This bill will close a gap in state law that potentially allows a teacher to retire due to criminal activity and have no record of the issues if they choose to rehire into the classroom. Our first goal is to protect students by ensuring districts have accurate information when conducting a background check for the staff they hire or rehire,” said Fowler Arthur.
“Closing the Background Check Retirement Loophole protects students and parents,” said Miller. “It also protects school districts. A teacher who retires while under investigation would still have all their rights under law, but other districts would have a clearer picture of the circumstances and could make the best, most informed decision on hiring that teacher. Right now, a district can be left in the dark.”
Currently, an Ohio teacher can use this loophole and retire while under investigation for misconduct and then apply to work for another school or school district with nothing in their record. A teacher who resigned under the same circumstances would be reported to the Department of Education and any school district or school would be on notice.
Recently, an Ohio school district had five teachers resign and one retire while under investigation into alleged inappropriate behavior involving pictures and text messages about a student. Closing the loophole would mandate all six teachers be treated the same and reported to the ODE.
The legislation now awaits a bill number and referral to an Ohio House committee.