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Florida lawmakers increase penalties for sex offenses committed by school workers



These days, the story is about Jennifer Fichter. Perhaps the most notorious name among Florida teachers who have been arrested for having sex with a student belongs to Debra Lafave.

Several more school workers have made the news for their inappropriate interactions with children. Four students from Hillsborough's Armwood High School asked Florida lawmakers to increase the penalties for school workers to take advantage of the youths in their schools.

On Wednesday, the Legislature obliged, with the Senate unanimously approving the Stop Harassing Underage Teens Act. The bill, which already passed the House, would reclassify the level of sexual offenses "committed by an authority figure of a school against a student of the school." For instance, a first degree felony would be reclassified to a life felony.

The student proponents told First Coast News their goal is to keep kids safe.

"It's an amazing feeling because we as students obviously see that there's a problem and if we see there's a problem as students in a public school, you know it must mean something that we're trying to get this done," said Elyse Chinowth, one of the Armwood students.

The bill next heads to Gov. Rick Scott.

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 11:20am]


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