New Efforts to Prevent Sexual Misconduct in Missouri Schools

Aug 7, 2019

House Bill 604, signed by Missouri Governor Mike Parson on July 11, 2019, attempts to close loopholes by tightening up prevention methods and outlining new required training for board members as well as students. Below are the new requirements:

Screening for Volunteers– As of August 28, 2019, any school volunteer who will be left alone with a student will first be required to pass a background check. These volunteers could include, but are not limited to:

  • Someone who regularly assists in the office or library;
  • Those who mentor or tutor students;
  • A person who coaches or supervises a school-sponsored activity; or
  • A student chaperone on an overnight trip.

Due Diligence- Before offering employment, school districts and charter schools must contact DESE for a list of districts or charter schools for which an applicant previously worked. Schools are required to contact the most recent school to request information about the employee, including information regarding any sexual misconduct with a child.

Duty to Disclose– School districts and charter schools are now required to disclose upon inquiry from any public school, information about a former employee regarding any “violation” related to sexual misconduct with a student.   A “violation” that must be reported is when the governing school board has determined that the conduct occurred after affording the employee a due process hearing.

Sexual Abuse Training– HB604 increases the training required for school board members to 18.5 hours, which must now include 2.5 hours devoted to information on identifying signs of sexual abuse in children and potentially abusive relationships between children and adults. The training must also address methods for establishing an atmosphere of trust so that students feel comfortable discussing matters of abuse with adults. Established school board members will be required to undergo annual refresher training courses.

Additionally, beginning with the 2020-21 school year, school districts will be required to provide “trauma-informed, developmentally-appropriate sexual abuse training” to students in all grades 6-12. The goal is that students will be equipped with the knowledge and tools to recognize sexual abuse and report an incident of sexual abuse. Students must be given the option to opt out upon the request of a parent or guardian.

Aigner S. Carr practices primarily in the areas of labor & employment, litigation, and education law, representing both private and public institutions in education and employment matters. Aigner attended Saint Louis University School of Law and is licensed to practice in Missouri. During law school, Aigner competed on the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Team and was awarded Best Trial Advocate of the Mid-West region for 2015-2016 competition. Aigner is also a former member of the Theodore McMillian American Inns of Court. Before joining the firm, Aigner interned for the Saint Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office and the Federal Public Defender’s Office of the Eastern District of Missouri.

Missouri Education  – The law firm of Tueth Keeney Cooper Mohan & Jackstadt, P.C. (the “Firm”), has one of the largest and most successful education law groups in the country. The Firm regularly serves the legal counsel needs of approximately 150 school districts throughout Missouri. The Firm also has one of the largest school law practices in Central and Southern Illinois.