(The Center Square) – A new Illinois law fortifies existing legislation aimed at preventing the sexual grooming of students by teachers and staff.
The law is named after Illinois resident Faith Colson. Colson was sexually abused by a teacher at her high school and learned years later during the course of legal proceedings that several adults within her high school suspected the inappropriate relationship but did not take action.
Faith’s Law was passed by the 102nd General Assembly as two separate pieces of legislation. The first legislation, Public Act 102-0676, took effect on Dec. 3, 2021 and, for the first time, established the definition of sexual misconduct within the School Code.
The new law closes a loophole that previously allowed teachers and school staff to have a sexual relationship with a student because the age of consent in Illinois is 17.
Tania Haigh, executive director of the nonprofit child protection organization Kids Too, said the new law also closes a loophole and addresses the possibility that an offender moves to another school.
“This really allows for the administration, the employers of the educators, to request notices of their employment history,” Haigh said.
Potential hires will also have to answer a survey regarding if they have ever been involved in any cases or allegations of sexual misconduct.
Also, if a district superintendent has any reasonable cause to believe an employee has committed an act of sexual misconduct, the superintendent must report this information to the state superintendent of education and the regional superintendent of schools.