Armwood kids' pitch to crack down on teacher sexual misconduct passes House
The students of Armwood High School scored a victory today against sexual misconduct by teachers.
Their runner-up entry in Rep. Kevin Ambler's "Ought to Be a Law" bill-drafting competition turned into a bill sponsored by Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, and it passed the House today on a 110-3 vote.
HB 659 reclassifies the felony degree of a sexual offense if the offense is committed by an authority figure at an educational institution against a student.
Stargel, who has five children, was a judge at the competition and said the issue is a big concern to her.
"We need to send a strong signal to our educational people in authority over these kids that this is not acceptable and there are lines that you can't cross," Stargel said earlier this month when the bill passed committee.
The students' original pitch was to have mandatory minimums, but Stargel said that after talking with lawyers they went with reclassifing felonies.
"They had PowerPoints, they talked specifically about the one teacher ... who was too pretty to go to jail," Stargel said, referring to Debra Lafave. "The kids saw this as problem."