U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Passing the Trash: Absence of State Laws Allows for Continued Sexual Abuse of K-12 Students by School Employees

NCJ Number
Date Published
21 pages
This study explored states' progress toward developing and implementing relevant law and policy to comply with the "Prohibition on Aiding and Abetting Sexual Abuse" provision in the United States Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015, which aims to eliminate "passing the trash," a practice that enables teachers who sexually abuse students to pursue another job with no record of their sexual misconduct.
Researchers collected data from representatives of state departments of education, asking whether representatives were aware of the provision and what progress their state had made toward complying with it. Overall, researchers found that just four states had fully complied; several others were in the process of creating relevant policy and legislation, and a few began the process in response to researchers' queries; however, the overwhelming majority of states (39) had no plans to create relevant legislation or policy, either because they were unaware of the provision or because they believed, erroneously, that existing laws fulfilled the ESSA mandate. "Passing the trash" is clearly an unacceptable practice, yet research suggests it still occurs, and state-level laws and policies to prevent it are slow to emerge. The lack of knowledge or awareness exhibited by many state representatives suggests a need to educate policymakers and education leaders about the practice of aiding and abetting sexual offenders, what consequences it can have for vulnerable students, and what provisions states can enact to prohibit it. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019