Law Required Study

The Education Department contracted with Ms. Shakeshaft to examine what is known about the prevalence of sexual misconduct against students by school employees. The agency was responding to a provision in the No Child Left Behind Act.

The little-noticed provision required a “study regarding the prevalence of sexual abuse in schools, including recommendations and legislative remedies for addressing the problem of sexual abuse in schools.” The provision went on to set a completion date of “not later than 18 months” after the enactment of the law, which was signed by President Bush in January 2002.

Ms. Shakeshaft said her initial understanding from the department was that she was to conduct a review of the existing research to set the stage for a broad national study. She said the department had interpreted the statute’s reference to “sexual abuse in schools” as meaning misconduct by school employees against students, and not by students against their peers.

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