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Senator Toomey Pushing New Background Check Legislation

Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey has introduced new legislation in the Senate looking to strengthen laws regarding school background checks.
Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey is looking to strengthen laws regarding school background checks.

Senator Toomey was in Scranton Friday looking to build support for a new law he's sponsoring.

Senator Toomey recently introduced the "Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act."

He says there are no uniform nationwide policies for school background checks. He calls that unsettling.

Senator Toomey took a tour of the Children's Advocacy Center on Mulberry Street before talking about the legislation with Eyewitness News.

He says the new law would require schools to perform background checks on all new and existing employees.

"I think it's common sense but in fact we don't have uniform standards for this," Senator Toomey said.

In 2013 to date, the Children's Advocacy Center in Scranton has already seen more than 1,100 children and adolescents who may have been abused or neglected. The numbers grow every year.

Advocates say legislation like this shouldn't even be a question.

"It really is pathetic when you look at it and you see the devastation that's been caused to say that it's just common sense that this would be in place," Lackawanna County Judge Michael Barrasse said.

Child advocates say any roadblocks to having sex predators working as teachers, bus drivers or janitors is a good thing.

"That's going to work to deter predators, maybe not stop them but to deter them and if not to deter them, to find them before they do harm," Children's Advocacy Center Executive Director Mary Ann LaPorta said.

Toomey's legislation would also ban schools from helping a child molester find a new teaching job. It's often a "quiet process," sometimes called "passing the trash."

"It just sounds so awful it's hard to believe that anyone would be part of that but it's happened," Senator Toomey said.

Senator Toomey says the death of a 12-year-old child in West Virginia highlights the need for change. He says the child was murdered by a principal, who had been dismissed as a teacher here in Delaware County, PA for sexual misconduct.
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