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After high-profile cases, lawmakers will study ways to reduce sexual misconduct in schools

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INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana state lawmakers will take steps to try and reduce the number of sexual misconduct cases involving public school teachers and employees statewide, in wake of recent headlines and arrests throughout Indiana.

“We need to double down our efforts to make sure our kids are safe in our schools,” State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) said.

Merritt wants to at least discuss re-checking every public school employee in Indiana to ensure no one is slipping through the cracks. He knows the idea would be costly and debated.

But it’s one proposal he’ll bring to the table when a summer study committee convenes later this summer tasked with finding solutions not only to sexual misconduct violations but also ways to improve reporting requirements.

“It’s not an easy subject,” State Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) recently said. “Obviously background checks and more strict scrutiny of teachers, particularly their past records, which seem to be unavailable at times to schools, need to be discussed. That’s a concern.”

Both Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) have promised a thorough review of what state lawmakers can do.

“There’s not a pre-determined solution at least from my perspective on this,” Bosma recently said. “But there’s been a rash of these issues that have been high profile. Safety of young people, especially in our schools both public and private, is critical.”

The parameters, at this point, have been left purposely vague to ensure lawmakers investigate every option and look to other states for safeguards that Indiana has yet to consider.

“We establish the bar,” Merritt said. “And it’s something that our constituents are asking for, and frankly I want to keep predators out of schools, and I want to keep our kids safe.”