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Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Bill creates new crime of 'grooming' by school employee

Bill creates new crime of 'grooming' by school employee

The Iowa legislature has voted to establish the new crime of "grooming" and a school employee accused of luring a student into a sexual relationship could be charged with a felony. Under the bill, schools would be required to report alleged grooming behavior of any school employee to state officials. Senator Chris Cournoyer of Le Claire says it also requires the Iowa Board of Education Examiners to notify law enforcement if officials believe a crime has been committed.

"Students, both male and female, should always feel safe at school," Cournoyer says, "and until we get these predators out of our schools, we need to be vigilant to protect our kids."

Senator Janet Petersen of Des Moines says the bill was inspired by a recent case in which a woman discovered a teacher who had manipulated her into an inappropriate relationship was being sued for doing the same thing to another student in another state.

"There was a big fear that this school teacher would return back to the state of Iowa to use Iowa classrooms as hunting ground, again, to prey on more students," Petersen says. The bill calls on the Board of Educational Examiners to create what essentially is a case number for each complaint about a school staffer's alleged grooming behavior. Representative Brooke Boden of Indianola notes the bill passed the House and Senate unanimously.

"I'd just like to commend everybody for working together on this very important bill," Boden says. "I think this makes sure that we remove the bad actors from any of our children, any of our schools."

Lawmakers say the vast majority of Iowa teachers and school staff are good people, but it's time to crack down on the few who prey on students with flirtatious behavior that's meant to groom students for a sexual relationship.

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