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Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials arrow Don’t pass the trash

Don’t pass the trash

Oregon is finally trying to quell the deplorable practice known as “passing the trash.”

That’s the process by which school employees who are suspected of sexual misconduct with students move from job to job because officials, rather than report the accusations or fire the worker, agree to conceal the charges from prospective employers if the worker resigns.

In 2008 the Legislature, by unanimous votes in the House and Senate, passed House Bill 2062, which outlaws the practice in public and private schools.

The law, unfortunately, didn’t take effect until July 1 of this year.

One thing, though, annoyed us about what should have been, without exception, a cause for celebration.

The Mail Tribune newspaper in Medford quoted an official from the public school district in that city who, although he lauded the new law, also complained about the paperwork involved in complying with it.

We’d be ecstatic if public officials could tout the benefits of a law designed to protect children without throwing in the obligatory whine about all the extra work.

It’s not as if House Bill 2062 is crammed with onerous requirements.

Here’s what school districts have to do:

• For each candidate for a job, the district must send a form to the person’s three previous employers, asking for information about any incidents of sexual misconduct, including those slimy “I’ll resign if you won’t fire me” deals that epitomize passing the trash

• Districts that receive such requests must return the form within 20 days

The Medford administrator told the Mail Tribune that the district might have to hire someone just to handle the paperwork.

Balderdash.

Yes, the law adds to districts’ paperwork load.

But even larger districts such as Medford’s don’t hire hundreds of employees every year. Nor are districts likely to have large numbers of former employees seeking jobs in other Oregon districts affected by the new law.

Moreover, how much time does it take to fax or e-mail a few forms?

Surely existing employees can add those tasks to their workload. Even a modest amount of overtime pay would cost districts far less than hiring a new employee — who, at least in the case of public schools, would be entitled to fringe benefits which are, compared with typical private sector packages, quite lavish.

House Bill 2062 is a vital law whose only flaw is its belated enactment.

Let’s just applaud its arrival, fill out the required forms, and be satisfied that we’re protecting students from predators.

And save the complaining for another subject.

 
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