School Safety Act of 2018

Introduced: September 18, 2018

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Robert White, Brianne K. Nadeau, Jack Evans, Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, and Charles Allen.


Summary: To establish a requirement that all schools in the District of Columbia shall adopt and implement a policy to prevent and address child sexual abuse and to require that District of Columbia Public Schools and public charter schools thoroughly vet potential hires including by checking the national licensing database.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Throughout the past year, the national conversation about school safety has focused on school shooting incidents, particularly as a result of the willingness of survivors of the Parkland, Florida tragedy to speak out.

While those mass-casualty incidents are deeply disturbing, despite seeming to happen ever more often, they remain fairly rare when compared to other forms of violence that affect our students and schools.

Locally, we had the misfortune to witness another form of violence over the past year—teachers sexually abusing children and students sexually assaulting other students.

It was upsetting enough to learn of the these incidents, but in too many cases we also learned that the school’s response was inadequate.

The School Safety Act seeks to fix that going forward, along with accompanying legislation I am introducing in the secretary’s office today. 

Under this legislation, all schools would have to establish policies and protocols for preventing and responding to child sexual abuse, including mandatory prevention-oriented education for staff, students, and parents.

We learned last year of a school that did not report allegations of child sexual abuse properly and this bill should help fix that. 

The bill would also increase the requirements of what efforts DCPS and charter schools must make to uncover past sexual misconduct of any individual they are hiring who will have direct contact with students.

As a companion bill to this legislation, I also am introducing today in the secretary’s office the “Student Safety and Consent Education Act of 2018.

That bill focuses on sexual violence among students, requiring all schools to establish policies to prevent and properly respond to instances of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating violence.

I was disturbed by reports last year that high schools were punishing the victims of sexual assault rather than seeking to support them and address the behaviors of the perpetrators.

As part of prevention efforts, the bill also requires DCPS and public charter schools to provide age-appropriate instruction to students on consent, personal boundaries, and healthy relationships.

Lastly, I want to note that I also introduced today in the secretary’s office a third school safety-focused bill that would establish an anonymous hotline for reporting instances of student plans to harm others or themselves, modeled on similar successful programs in other states.

At a time when the federal Department of Education is promoting more guns in schools as a response to violence, I am excited to continue the conversation in D.C. about how to truly make our schools safer places.