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Legislation would check up on teachers' pasts

Posted at 5:48 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 17:48:07-05

INDIANAPOLIS – There’s a new effort at the Statehouse to protect your child, sparked by what allegedly happened between a coach and a student at Park Tudor High School.

Lawmakers want to make sure schools know absolutely everything about a teacher’s past before hiring them.

Park Tudor’s ex-basketball coach, Kyle Cox, recently resigned following allegations he was exchanging sexually explicit messages with a 15-year-old girl.

MORE | Former Park Tudor coach arrested | Kyle Cox released from custody

He wasn’t charged for a month and a half after he resigned, and that’s where the problem stems.

Because Cox signed a confidentiality agreement when he resigned, during that gap of time before he was arrested, he could have been hired at another school without that school having any idea of the allegations against him.

The school would not have been allowed to tell future employers what police suspected about him.

RELATED | Law professor says Park Tudor made mistakes

Sen. Jim Merritt (R-31) has proposed legislation that would lift those confidentiality agreements between schools and former employees to make it so schools that are hiring can call former employees and actually be told about allegations that were made.

"So they'll be able to look inside the confidentially agreement to see if there's a substantiated report to  DCS,” Merritt said, “but they won't be able to find out who the child was that was abused or the family of the child."

Sen. Merritt said this would apply only to “substantiated claims” about an educator.

Because we are well into the legislative session, new bills can’t be created right now. But Sen. Merritt is trying to tack this change onto an unrelated bill.

Not everyone is on board, though. Indiana Education Association President Rhondalyn Cornett says it takes “innocent until proven guilty” out of the equation.

“It’s like you’re blacklisting them because of something that maybe happened,” Cornett said. “It makes (a person) look guilty – and they’re not always guilty.”

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