Teachers and other school workers who have sexual relationships with students would have to register as sex offenders and would be subject to a lifetime of supervision under a bill discussed Thursday in the Nevada Legislature.
The Senate Judiciary Committee reviewed SB192, which is sponsored by Republican Sen. Becky Harris and others.
Witnesses said it would close loopholes that allow teachers and school workers to find their way back into classrooms in Nevada or in other states after they have been convicted.
“In my 30(equals)plus years of advocacy work, I have listened to countless victims of all ages and parents tell their horrifying experiences of lives irrevocably changed by teachers they never expected would do such detrimental harm,” said Terri Miller, president of Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation, in prepared testimony. “It is excruciating for them to know other children have or could be harmed like they have been.”
In addition to requiring sex-offender registration, the measure would criminalize sexual conduct between employees or volunteers at a school who are 21 or older and students who are younger than 19. Existing law only bans such conduct if the student is younger than 18.
Harris said the measure is aimed at protecting students who turn 18 while they are still in high school, or high school students who are taking college courses.
Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union want clarification so the bill wouldn’t criminalize relationships between school workers and students who are very close in age and aren’t in a hierarchical relationship. Lobbyist Vanessa Spinazola said it’s important that the bill specifies the offender is in authority over the student in cases where the age difference is small.