Wednesday, July 25 2012, 06:32 PM CDT
Judge finds loophole in full disclosure law
By Caitlin Conrad/KTVL.com
GRANTS PASS, Ore -- A judge in Josephine County found his way around a 2009 Oregon law put in place to prevent child sex abuse in the classroom.
The law requires school districts to disclose to other districts any complaints of inappropriate actions against a teacher who may be up for hire. The goal is to prevent offenders from moving from one district to another.
Earlier this summer, Josephine County Circuit Court Judge Pat Wolke gave former Three River's School District teacher Sherry Zottola a clean slate regarding a 1997 affair with a 19-year-old high school student. Zottola exchanged poetry about her sexual desires with the student.
Wolke found the language in the 2009 bill doesn't force districts to disclose misconduct if it happened before the bill became law.
Representative Sara Gelser helped to pass the bill in 2009 intending to force school districts to disclose any teacher misconduct to a future employer no matter when it happened.
Gelser says, when Legislature is back in session, she'll be working to fix the language for 2013. She says fixing the language and protecting students is an issue with support on both sides of the aisle.
"The behavior was wrong before the bill was passed, it has always been wrong, and it always will be wrong," Gelser said.