Manchin says students need protected from ‘passing the trash’
By Chris Lawrence , WV MetroNews
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) jointly introduced legislation Thursday in Washington aimed at protecting children from child predators in the school system.
The legislation was born out of the 1997 rape and murder of Jeremy Bell,12, of Fayette County. Bell was murdered by his teacher, Edgar Friedrichs Jr. who was convicted of drugging Bell and killing him and also of sexually assaulting two of Bell’s friends. Fayette County authorities had no idea when they hired Friedrichs he had been dismissed from the Delaware County, Pa. school system for allegations of sexual misconduct with students. In fact, Friedrichs was hired for the West Virginia teaching position based in some part on glowing recommendations from the same school system in Pennsylvania which had fired him in 1972.
“Every child should have a safe place in their life. That might not always be the home and in a lot of instances, it’s the school,” said Manchin during a news conference announcing the introduction of The Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act. “If we don’t have that one place we can control to some extent, then God help us all.”
The same practice which allowed for Friedrichs to land the West Virginia job through a recommendation of the previous school system is commonly known as “passing the trash” which happens more than anyone cares to know according to Manchin and others who have studied the issue.
“I don’t think anybody would take offense to this legislation that are in the education system for the right reason,” said Manchin. “No one should take offense to it.”
The bill would require a background check for anyone hired in a school system who has contact with children.
“This is not just directed toward any group of educators,” said Manchin. “Whether it be a teacher, teacher’s aide, somebody who works in the infirmary, someone who may be a custodian, somebody who drives your children, anybody who has contact with a child in a school system should come under this review.”