Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen is pushing for two major changes in state law as the legislature prepares to meet in January. Arntzen explains what’s at the top of her agenda.

“Number one is restoration,” Arntzen said. “There were monies that were transferred to the back of local tax payers. I do believe that from when I was a legislator of 12 years, to who I am now, that the state has a responsibility in educating all of our children. As a result, I need $22 million coming back in the form of state support. That is first and foremost.”

Arntzen is also asking the legislature to pass something called the Student Safety and Accountability act, which would prohibit sexual relationships between teachers and students in Montana schools

“What I am proposing is that a student becomes a protected class when it comes to anything dealing with sexual assault,” Arntzen said. “Right now the age of consent is 16. This piece of legislation is saying that a student can’t give consent. They are in a safe environment. You would think in a common sense world that a student would not have to have a sexual predator involved in any component part of their education, but sadly to say, it is occurring.”

The act would also create new restraints on schools that handle cases of sexual assault, so that those that are found guilty can’t simply be fired and then move to find work in another school district. Arntzen says that during her tenure she has already seen situations like this occur.

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