In 2015, the Hazelwood, Missouri, School District fired Deonte Taylor, now 35. On November 13 of that year, Taylor allegedly took a 7-year-old boy out of his classroom and sexually assaulted him in another, empty classroom. According to court documents, Taylor’s DNA was found on the boy’s body and clothing.
Two years later the neighboring Ferguson-Florissant School District hired Taylor to teach fourth-grade. Until his arrest last week, Taylor was teaching many of those same children in the fifth grade. Although the St. Louis area media covered his arrest the day it occurred, there has not been a word since about how Taylor managed to find a new job, especially one so close to home.
The media should be all over this story. What makes the story particularly scandalous is that in 2011 Missouri passed landmark legislation preventing this very practice, what insiders call “passing the trash.”
The Amy Hestir Student Protection Act was the first statute in the nation to address the way teachers unions used non-disclosure agreements to preserve the teaching careers of sexual predators. As she testified before the bill’s passage, Amy Hestir had been groomed by a popular teacher/ coach from the age of 12.
When Amy tried to sever the relationship, the coach sexually assaulted her. The coach had been investigated for sexual misconduct in another district before he assaulted her. At the time of her testimony ten years after the assault, he was still teaching and coaching in Missouri.
The Amy Hestir Student Protection Act mandated that school districts report misconduct allegations to the Division of Social Services and that they have firm policies in place to prevent trash passing. According to the law, “School districts may be civilly liable for failure to disclose information about an employee who was dismissed or resigned due to substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct to a subsequent employing district.”
Although Taylor’s case made a mockery of the law, Missouri media have been shockingly incurious. To date, there has been no follow-up by any of the media outlets that covered the arrest. Lord knows had Taylor been a priest or a minister, or even a teacher at a private school, the story would still be in the headlines.