Senate bill puts children first, not school predators

I t should not have to be against the law for school officials to help sexual predators they have fired find new jobs working with children. Most of us would not dream of putting youngsters at risk through such irresponsibile behavior.

But apparently such a law is needed. Had it existed many years ago, Jeremy Bell of Fayette County, W.Va., might be alive today.

Bell, a fifth-grade student in 1997, went on an overnight fishing trip with his school principal, Edgar Freidrichs – who raped and murdered the little boy. Friedrichs is serving a life sentence in prison.

Previously, he had worked as an educator in Delaware County, Pa. He was fired from that job, reportedly on suspicion of sexual misconduct. School officials helped him land the new position in West Virginia.

Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., have introduced a bill that would prohibit school officials from helping fired predators from finding jobs elsewhere.?It also would require background checks on most school employees who have access to children. Finally, it would prohibit schools from hiring people convicted of certain offenses.

“Do we dare wonder just how many predators we could have prevented from harming our students if this bill had been passed years ago?” Manchin asked on the Senate floor a few days ago.

More important, how many cases of child abuse will be prevented if the bill is enacted?

Both the Senate and House of Representatives should approve the measure without delay.