TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Jay Webber’s landmark legislation stopping child predators in schools from easily changing jobs was signed today by the governor.
“This is a huge victory for our children, their parents, and our state,” said Webber (R-Morris). “This landmark legislation creates safer schools and prioritizes the protection of our students. Allowing former employers to share information with prospective employers about teachers who sexually assault students is plain common sense. No longer will these predators be able to continue their horrific behavior simply by changing jobs. Children will now have the protection they deserve.”
Webber’s bill (S414/A3381) requires school districts to share information about sexual misconduct and child abuse investigations unless the claims were proven to be false or unsubstantiated, and grant school districts legal immunity. It also bans the separation agreements that force districts to destroy or withhold information about those probes.
Webber authored and championed this legislation after learning the story of Jason Fennes, a former Montville High School teacher whose sexual assault of five female students spurred his suspension and resignation.
Fennes was then hired by a private school that confirmed his employment, but Montville was bound by a separation agreement preventing them from sharing his past abuse. Subsequently, he sexually assaulted a first-grade girl less than a year after his hire for which he is now serving a 14-year state prison sentence.
Senator Joe Pennacchio sponsors the Senate bill (S414). The Senate and Assembly unanimously approved the legislation in February.