Lorena Gonzalez Bill Would Prevent Cover-Ups of Serial Abuse at Schools
AB 989 Would Create Independent Overseers at Public Schools to Help Students, Parents Report Sexual Misconduct, Child Abuse
SACRAMENTO -- (Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019) -- California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D - San Diego) is taking action to protect students from abuse by creating an independent entity at the district level for public school students or employees to contact and report abusive behavior.
Assembly Bill 989 was inspired by the advocacy of Loxie Gant, a former student at La Jolla High School who was sexually abused by a teacher while she was his student but her complaints went largely ignored by officials until she shared her story for an investigation by Voice of San Diego. The investigation found San Diego Unified School District had kept no records of abuse reported by students to the school administration at the time.
“Students are not being listened to and they don’t feel like they’re being believed — that is the common thread in these stories,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said. “This independent overseer will be a check at the school administration level, where there seems to be a problem.”
All teacher misconduct cases currently must be handled at the lowest level of the administration, keeping investigations into misconduct from going further than the school administration, preventing actual consequences and leaving serial abusers free to continue harming students.
AB 989 would establish in each County Office of Education or School District a new position for providing guidance and compliance with the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act. Local officials would also be required to create a centralized toll-free number and website for individuals to submit complaints to that public school ombudsperson.
For more information on AB 989 or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Sami Gallegos (209) 658-7617.