Virginia state legislation requires school bathrooms to be inspected every 30 minutes


This article was originally published on Virginia Mercury.

Under a bill proposed by a Republican delegate, Virginia schools could be required to have a school employee check each bathroom every half hour to ensure students are safe.

The proposal comes on the heels of a 2020 case in which a 6-year-old Hampton elementary school student was sexually assaulted by another student in a bathroom over an 18-month period.

“It’s a working paper, so it may be amended when it passes,” said Hampton Republican Rep. Del. A.C. Cordoza, the bill’s sponsor. “Nothing is set in stone until… it gets that ink from the ruler’s pen.”

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under Proposed House Bill No. 1528named Celeste’s Law after the Hampton student, would require public schools to have a staff member in each school check every restroom in the building no less than once every 30 minutes during regular school hours.

“If they’re walking around and going to the bathrooms and checking them out, on the way they’re also monitoring everything that’s going on,” Cordoza said. “If someone is planning to do something to hurt other students — they go to their locker, they take something else — they might see that. So it really makes the mission more efficient.”

Cordoza said the culture in schools has changed in recent years, a factor that partly prompted him to introduce the bill.

He also said his legislation does not envision teachers being removed from classrooms for security checks. The bill specifically states that employees conducting the checks would include “any school resource officer or any school security officer.”

“We don’t want to burden school resource officers or social support staff either,” he said. “We just want to make sure our kids are safe, and I want to do that in the most effective and efficient way.”

Hampton case

Cordoza said he promised Nikia Miller, the mother of the Hampton student, that he would do everything in his power to make sure a similar situation does not happen to any other children in his district or the broader commonwealth.

In March 2020, an elementary school principal in Hampton City Public Schools alerted Miller that her child had been sexually assaulted multiple times by another student who was a year older than him. Miller’s daughter was 6 years old when the alleged assaults began.

Miller said wavy She believes there were at least 10 cases of assault on her daughter over an 18-month period. The mother said that the child suffered frequent anxiety and panic attacks and had to attend weekly therapy sessions. She was also transferred to another school.

Last year, Miller filed a $5 million lawsuit against Hampton Schools Virginia Pilot She stated that the department was negligent.

In response, Hampton City Public Schools said it conducted an investigation alongside the Hampton City Police Department that found that two second-graders who attended various after-school programs met in the girls’ restroom after school hours.

The school administration said that it had no knowledge of the confrontations until after they occurred.

“Hampton City Schools staff remain committed to ensuring a safe and nurturing environment for all of our students,” the school division said. In the current situation to WTKR last year.

The school administration said that, at the parent’s request, it registered the affected student in another school and provided him with counseling.

The Hampton case isn’t the only Virginia incident to unfold in a school bathroom.

In 2021, a Loudoun County Public Schools high school student assaulted two female students on two separate occasions. The first assault occurred in the bathroom. As a result, the teenager was transferred to another school, where he assaulted another student. The first victim She has since filed a $30 million lawsuit against the school divisionSaying she failed to follow Title IX processes related to sexual assaults or even begin an investigation until five months after the assault.

Cordoza, who said he is familiar with Loudoun’s issues, said the General Assembly must now “proactively try to prevent this from happening.”

Virginia Mercury It is part of State Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. The Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong with questions: Follow the virginia mercury on Facebook And Twitter.

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