Sadly, it's no longer unusual to hear a news story about a child being molested on school grounds.
But the days of keeping such incidents hush-hush need to end.
For too long, school leaders handled their suspicions and knowledge by arranging for a school employee to move on. And when that employee showed up at another school and offered a resume of experience, the details regarding the hush-hush incident were left out.
For that reason, state Senator Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia/Delaware, deserves praise for continuing to push legislation to close the loopholes that have been allowing school districts to hire employees who had once been under investigation in connection with child abuse or sexual misconduct allegations.
In January, Williams introduced Senate Bill 46, sometimes referred to as the effort to stop schools from "passing the trash."
Under the bill, those applying for a job at a school and all independent contractors with be required, unless the allegations were false, to reveal if they have been the subject of an abuse or sexual misconduct investigation by an employer, a state licensing agency, a law enforcement agency or a child protective services agency.
Prospective employees also will be asked if they were disciplined, discharged or asked to resign while such allegations were pending. And schools will be authorized to check into the accuracy of those statements.
After Williams made a passionate plea before Senate lawmakers on June 3, his bill received a unanimous vote of support. It now goes to the House for consideration, and we hope its actions are swift.
Schools throughout the state, including those in Blair and surrounding counties, are not exempt when it comes to "passing the trash" examples.
One of the most recent cases surfaced late last year, when Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian won a settlement for 11 men who claimed they had been molested by Brother Stephen Baker, a Blair County resident, when Baker worked as a coach at a high school in Warren, Ohio, from 1986 to 1990.
Subsequent to the settlement, other alleged victims stepped forward and offered details of Baker molesting them, too, between 1992 to 2000 when he worked at Johnstown's Bishop McCort High School in neighboring Cambria County.
Baker committed suicide in January.
As more and more states look for ways to keep children safe from child predators who steal their innocence, Pennsylvania lawmakers appear headed in the right direction.
"It's now time to say we will not pass the trash," state Rep. Cherrelle Parker, D-Philadelphia said in pledging her support to see that Williams' bill passes. "We will make sure the trash is where it should be, in the can with the lid closed."