FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Montana Legislature Passes Key Student Safety Bills
April 18, 2019
HELENA— The Montana Senate concurred with House amendments to Senate Bill 132 today, sending the bill to the Governor. SB 132, the Student Safety Accountability Act, is sponsored by Senator Keith Regier of Kalispell. It recognizes that educators are in a position of trust and authority over students, therefore, students cannot consent to sexual relationships with educators. Further, it holds school district personnel accountable if they help an employee or former employee gain new employment if the individual engaged in sexual misconduct with a student or minor.
This is the second key bill passed by the Montana Legislature this session to keep sexual predators out of Montana’s classrooms. House Bill 173, sponsored by Representative Morigeau of Missoula, also works to criminalize sexual relationships between school officials and students. The Legislature passed HB 173 last week.
The OPI was an early proponent of both pieces of legislation.
“When parents send their students off to schools each day, they trust that it is a safe environment. Thank you to the Montana Legislature for working to reaffirm that trust,” State Superintendent Elsie Arntzen said Thursday. “The OPI will continue to put the safety of Montana students first.”
“Parents place a large amount of trust in the staff providing their children’s education,” said Senator Keith Regier. “With the great amount of school time, along with mental and emotional instruction, it is a higher level of trust than that of a store clerk, a waitress or other people children encounter in life. With that higher trust level comes an increased responsibility for school staff.”
“It’s one of our most important responsibilities to ensure that Montana’s laws are protecting our most vulnerable,” said House Democratic Whip Shane Morigeau. “My legislation reflects the reality that students cannot give consent in a school setting with an instructional, supervisory, disciplinary, or other authority figure who has power over them. Montana parents and students deserve a school environment where they feel safe and able to learn—and this law takes a step toward providing them that assurance.”
CONTACT: Dylan Klapmeier
Director of Communications, Montana Office of Public Instruction