Hillsborough students want teachers held accountable in sex scan - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Hillsborough students want teachers held accountable in sex scandals

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American Government teacher Tony Pirotta American Government teacher Tony Pirotta

Four Armwood High School seniors are taking their mission to Tallahassee Tuesday to change the way teachers who have sex with students are punished.

Simone Girard, Taylor Brooks, Elyse Chinowth and Milikia Hunter recreated a bill that is currently before state lawmakers.

House Bill 485 would "provide for reclassification of specified sexual offenses committed against students by an authority figure; providing for severity ranking of offenses... Providing for application of the severity ranking chart of the criminal punishment code."

If the bill passes, it would increase penalties for teachers who plead guilty, or are found guilty of having sex with a student.

"We all want to be moms when we get older, we all want to have kids, and to us, if it's a problem now it's going to be a problem in the future,” said Brooks. "I don't want my children being preyed upon by these crazy teachers.

Girard echoed her classmate's sentiments.

"We feel if it's today, it's going to be in the future," said Girard. "And if we don't stop it now or deter it now, what will it become?"

The original House Bill was drafted in the wake of high profile cases like the one involving Greco Middle School Teacher Debra Lafave. Lafave admitted to having sex with one of her students, and later a judge sentenced her to probation.

Hunter was a student at Greco at the time and says sex scandals like the one involving Lafave have far reaching implications.

"It hits close to home,” said Hunter. "A lot of my peers talked about it as I was going there. And, it was just like, it's nothing that you want to go to school and hear."

Previous classes have tried to get the bill pushed through the legislature, but have failed. This is the latest attempt since 2009.

American Government teacher Tony Pirotta believes this time, they have a chance.

"The thing that gives us confidence this year is the fact that we were able to get that first committee stop in the senate,” said Pirotta. "That had been the obstacle that stopped the bill year after year.”

Pirotta and the students plan to caravan to the capitol first thing Tuesday morning to witness what happens next, and answer any questions lawmakers might have.

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