Betsy DeVos, who worked as a low-income child and youth advocate and school administrator, released the following statement on the Center for American Progress’ recommendations for restricting the data collecting on sexual misconduct by public and private school employees.
“Reasonable people can disagree on how to remedy this issue, and our joint, thoughtful effort is not a substitute for legislative action. However, this sickening move by a former White House counsel and Vice President of the United States is egregious and troubling. The Administration must immediately undo the damage done by this decision and adopt a new and thoughtful approach to collecting this data.
“The American people rightfully expect their children to be protected from abuse, whether perpetrated by authority figures in homes, schools, or work places. The Administration’s process for collecting data on school staff sexual misconduct is not working. Many schools have inaccurate reporting of school sexual misconduct data, and some schools do not collect this information at all. Recent research suggests that an even lower percentage of school employees who commit sexual abuse against children have ever been terminated. There is no question that schools and districts across the country need to improve how they report school staff sexual misconduct, but there is no question that federal student privacy law should not stand in the way of all our efforts to learn what, when, and how our schools are being victimized by abusers.
“Our current system has all the right safeguards in place, but the Administration’s decisions in this area has wrongly lead to the grossly inaccurate reports of school sexual misconduct data that have emerged. This report will again put school districts that collect this data in harm’s way, as administrators have lost faith in the federal government and refuse to comply. Schools and districts must have faith in the report and in the federal government to identify and correct their mistakes. We cannot allow this attempt to undermine a clear, fair, transparent, and lawful process to go unchallenged. Our students deserve better than this.”