Illinois governor Pritzker signs legislation to help address sexual abuse in schools

Faith's Law requires school districts to create a code of conduct for teachers to protect students from misconduct.

Updated: December 6, 2021 - 11:22pm

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed House Bill 1975, or Faith's Law, which would require school districts to create a code of conduct for teachers to protect students from misconduct.

The legislation also includes the requirement of a resource guide for parents of students ordered to be established by July 1, 2023. The guide is required to be posted on the school's website and listed in the school's handbooks.

The legislation is being referred to as "Faith's Law" after a student who was sexually groomed and assaulted by a teacher in 2001.

Senate sponsor Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, said this legislation can help prevent sexual abuse in school by clearing up confusion regarding what should be reported.

"There has been some confusion from good teachers who observe troubling behavior that they do not know where the line is in term of reporting, this bill fixes that issue," Bennett said.

House Bill 1975 requires school districts across the state to implement teachers institute days to be used as teaching days for employees to learn about certain signs of sexual abuse.

The bill also requires those districts to develop a Code Of Conduct for employees to sign, Bennett said.

"This bill tries to make sure that schools do more to define sexual misconduct," Bennett said. "It makes sure that they write a code of ethics for the district."

State Rep. Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore, also a sponsor, said in a statement that the legislation was a joint effort.

“We listened, we brainstormed, and we came together not as Republicans or Democrats, but as mothers and fathers from all walks of life dedicated to one purpose, eradicating the sexual abuse and exploitation of Illinois students,” Keicher said.

Pritzker signed the bill late last week and released a statement after the signing.

"Students deserve to be safe in their classrooms, period," the governor said. "Anything short of that is a call to action, and Faith's Law is another critical step in creating and preserving safe and welcoming learning environments for all students."

After being signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the measure will apply to grades Pre-K through Grade 12.

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