A Chandler lawmaker has proposed a state law that aims to fill a gap in a state notification system that allowed a kindergarten teacher accused of child sex crimes to lead class for more than six months without the school knowing.
Rep. Bob Robson, R-Chandler, introduced HB2042 on Feb. 21 after reading two Tribune reports about Angela Csader, a 25-year-old Queen Creek resident who resigned from her job at Anthem Elementary in Florence last month after she was charged with having sex with a 16-year-old Gilbert boy.
The bill calls for an immediate and streamlined notification system between law enforcement and schools to prevent cases such as Csader's from happening again.
"You could see that there was a drop in the system, and we needed to close those holes," Robson said.
Police learned of Csader's situation more than a year before her resignation, and she admitted to Gilbert police in May that she had sex multiple times with the boy, who also fathered her child.
But the boy and his parents never pressed charges, records show. That decision delayed the arrest and booking process - and revealed a gap in the notification process.
State law requires Arizona teachers to get a fingerprint clearance card issued by the Department of Public Safety, which enters the information into a database. So if a teacher is arrested and booked into jail, his or her status as a teacher pops up in a check.
DPS then notifies the Department of Education, which in turn notifies the school.
But Csader's case entered the courts through a process where she wasn't first physically arrested.
Instead, her case was forwarded to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. Prosecutors decided to charge Csader in October and filed a direct complaint.
She appeared before the court on Dec. 18, when she was officially arrested and booked.
DPS suspended her fingerprint card on Jan. 8 and sent notification to the Department of Education on Jan. 14. Two days later, the school district received notification.
Robson's bill works to address those lags in time by requiring DPS to provide each school district and charter school with a list of fingerprint card holders who have been arrested or convicted every day.
"There are these gaps, and you can't fill or anticipate them all," Robson said. "But if it's as easy to fix as using a computer system to get the information to the right people and let them know, then it's something that we need to do right away."
The law would also make educators who don't immediately report their arrests to the school guilty of unprofessional conduct.
That punishment would call for dismissal and exclusion from future employment in other school districts.
Robson said he is still working with DPS officials to fine-tune the bill. But he expects the measure to roll through the House and Senate without much resistance.
"I can't see a reason why it wouldn't make it through," he said. "It not only protects children, but it protects the people that work in the school as well."
DPS declined to comment. Officials said the department waits until active legislation has passed before speaking.
The bill unanimously passed a committee hearing on Wednesday and will likely go before a House caucus next week.
Officials in the Florence Unified School District think the bill is a great step to prevent what happened with Csader at their school.
"It absolutely would have been a help in our situation," district spokesman Larry Cline said.
"It will greatly reduce the opportunities for a teacher accused of certain crimes to remain inside the classroom," he said.