Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen announced on Thursday that bills she helped shepherd through the legislature to protect students passed the Senate and are headed to Governor Steve Bullock for his signature.

In January, when Arntzen proposed the bill to forbid teachers and administrators to have sexual relationships with students, she called the practice ‘evil’.

“I believe that in all of our communities there is evil,” said Arntzen. “We are hoping that this bill puts a stop to some of the activities that are occurring, and we are hoping that within our teaching profession that our profession will also step up and say ‘this shall not happen’.”

Spokesman Dylan Klapmeier looked back to the first day of the legislative session when Arntzen took the legislators to school.

“She hosted a school safety summit on the first day of the session and there are a couple of bills that the OPI has been early proponents of that we’re happy passed this week,” said Klapmeier. “This week the senate passed Senate Bill 132, the Student Safety Accountability Act sponsored by Senator Keith Regier from Kalispell. It recognizes that teachers are in a position of authority over students and therefore students can’t consent to sexual relationships with educators or school officials.”

House Bill 173, sponsored by Representative Shane Morigeau from Missoula also works to criminalize sexual relationships between school officials and students. The Legislature passed HB 173 last week.

Both bills have been sent to Governor Steve Bullock for his signature and will then become Montana law.

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