In a statement, Maloney said Pennsylvania School Code does not require school entities to conduct a thorough employment history check of job applicants, nor does it require school entities to provide a comprehensive response to a background inquiry from another school entity. Maloney's proposal would correct this oversight in the law.
"When a school employee abuses a student or engages in sexual misconduct with a student, or is alleged to have done so, current law is insufficient to prevent that employee from quietly resigning and moving onto another school, where the abusive conduct may continue," Maloney said. "We expect that those whom we entrust with our children's health and welfare to protect them, not prey on them."
Maloney said that by providing for immunity from criminal and civil liability for employers, school entities, school administrators and independent contractors that disclose the requested background information, the legislation would remove the threat of a frivolous lawsuit being filed by a sex offender when a school notifies another school of a former employee's misdeeds.
Perhaps most important, the legislation would prohibit a school entity or independent contractor from entering into an agreement to maintain the confidentiality of findings or allegations of abuse against a current or former staff member, he said. The bill would apply to all public and private schools, intermediate units and vocational-technical schools in the commonwealth.
We encourage the Senate to do what the House did and move the bill to Gov. Tom Corbett's desk.
That schools have the ability to move known child abusers to another district is unconscionable. We congratulate Maloney for using his experience on the Oley Valley School Board as inspiration to further protect the most vulnerable.
OHIO'S EARTHQUAKE RESPONSE DEMANDS PENNSYLVANIA ACTION
Confirmation by Ohio officials that fracking caused several low-level earthquakes near the Lawrence County border warrants attention.
Yet it's by no means clear that Pennsylvania is responding appropriately.
In Ohio, the discovery has prompted new rules that will halt future drilling activities at sites with faults or where quakes are recorded.
Ohio's new rules will not prevent drilling and fracking. Instead, they are designed to provide a layer of public protection over a process that apparently can produce unanticipated results.
In the case of the drilling operation near Lowellville, it's believed a previously unknown fault was affected by fracking in the Utica shale layer. That's what led to a series of small earthquakes. The fracking operation was halted after the quakes to allow the state to investigate, and the conclusion that the events were connected resulted in a permanent ban on activity at that particular well.
For the most part, drilling and fracking in Ohio will continue as planned. It's obvious that most of these operations do not produce earthquakes, and the quakes that have been reported are not large enough to cause damage. For the most part, people didn't even notice them.
But what would happen if Ohio had ignored the quakes, allowing the fracking to proceed and stronger shocks were felt?
There is considerable controversy where shale gas drilling is concerned. Companies involved in the process argue that it is safe and proper environmental precautions are taken. However, they cannot accurately determine the impact of fracking on an undiscovered fault.
The Lowellville incident should serve as a broader concern for regulators. But in Pennsylvania, the official response is decidedly muted, noting that there have been no similar incidents in the state, and seemingly downplaying the concern.
A statement from the Department of Environmental Protection noted it "does not believe that there is enough information about the Ohio incident to relate hydraulic fracturing to an increased potential for earthquakes in Pennsylvania."
Obviously, authorities in Ohio thought otherwise.
The last time we checked, Pennsylvania and Ohio were very close to each other on a map. If geologic conditions deep underground are to blame for fracking-related earthquakes, an occurrence in Ohio needs to be taken very seriously in Pennsylvania.
Again, this is not a call to ban fracking. But it is a call for environmental officials to plan and prepare, rather than react. It's in everyone's interest to promote confidence in shale drilling, rather than create uncertainty.
—New Castle News