“Passing the Trash” in Illinois After Doe-3 v. McLean County Unit District No. 5: A Proposal for Legislation to Prevent School Districts From Handing Off Sexually Abusive Employees to Other School Districts
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In school districts throughout the United States, school administrations often conceal employee-on-student sexual misconduct and allow the perpetrators to resign and continue their abuse of students at other school districts. The practice is known as “passing the trash.” In Doe-3 v. McLean County Unit District No. 5, the Illinois Supreme Court addressed a case of “passing the trash” and held that a school district does not owe an affirmative duty to a subsequent school district employer or its students; however, the court determined that a school district has a duty to provide accurate information about former employees. In an effort to eradicate the practice of “passing the trash,” the Illinois General Assembly amended the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act. This Comment argues that the narrow scope of Doe-3 v. McLean County Unit District No. 5 does very little for victims of “passing the trash.” In addition, this Comment argues that the Illinois General Assembly’s use of the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act was the wrong mechanism to prevent the practice, as the Act only works if school districts do not conceal employee-on-student sexual misconduct and report such incidents. Finally, this Comment proposes alternative legislative methods of preventing “passing the trash” by: (1) providing victims a civil cause of action against violators of the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act; (2) requiring school districts to conduct more comprehensive background checks; (3) requiring school districts to verify that transient school personnel remain in good standing; and (4) creating a cohesive national policy.