A conviction for certain crimes against children will carry a lifetime ban from teaching in Kansas under a new state law.


TOPEKA (AP) — A conviction for certain crimes against children will carry a lifetime ban from teaching in Kansas under a new state law.

A bill making the change slipped quietly through the Legislature. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed it last month, and it took effect May 1.

“Anybody who had a preponderance to do things to children, we didn’t want them to be around teaching,” Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Jean Schodorf said Tuesday.

Generally, Kansas law has said that someone convicted of a sex offense can’t obtain or renew a teaching license.

However, it also has said that after five years, the State Board of Education can grant a teaching license if it feels the person has been rehabilitated.

The new law adds promoting obscenity and endangering a child to the list of crimes that lead to a five-year ban.

It also says a conviction for aggravated endangerment — intentionally or recklessly putting a child in a situation in which an injury occurs — will lead to a lifetime ban.

Also, a conviction for sexual battery against a child will lead to a lifetime ban from teaching in Kansas.

“It’s a higher bar, and should it not be? Well, the answer is yes,” said Education Commissioner Alexa Posny.

But the new law also ends the state’s practice of banning anyone from teaching for life for having a drunken driving conviction. Sen. John Vratil, a Leawood Republican who sought that change, said it’s unfair to punish someone for such a mistake if it was a youthful indiscretion and they’ve been rehabilitated.

Posny said a desire to change the drunken driving rule led lawmakers to look at the entire law. News reports about sex abuse cases involving teachers probably had heightened lawmakers’ awareness, even if they didn’t discuss the other changes much, she said.

Last year, a nationwide Associated Press investigation found that more than 2,500 educators had their teaching credentials revoked, denied, surrendered or sanctioned from 2001 through 2005 following allegations of sexual misconduct. Experts who track sexual abuse said those cases show a deeper problem because of underreporting.