LANSING — Today, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 5532, sponsored by state Rep. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit). Santana’s bill would expand Michigan’s personal protection order (PPO) law to add a provision that prohibits sex offenders from attending the same school as their minor victims.

“I was horrified when I found out school-aged survivors of sexual assault could be compelled to attend school with the individuals who assaulted them. This omission from the law is an enormous oversight,” Santana said. “My bill will close this gap and provide much-needed support to the survivors of these horrible crimes. Their education should not be hindered by the fear of encountering their abuser in the hallway or the lunchroom.”

The current law does not provide relief to minors who have been assaulted by schoolmates. The offending student can be suspended, but without intervention by the school board or a court, there is nothing that prohibits an offender from returning to the same school as the victim. As the law is currently written, sexual assault victims may suffer daily reminders of the terrible event, because they can be forced to attend school or ride the bus with their abuser every day. HB5532 does not prevent the offender from attending school; it just prevents him or her from attending the same school as the victim. 

“I have children of my own,” Santana continued. “It is absolutely heartbreaking and horrifying for anyone to be sexually assaulted, but even more so for this to have been inflicted on a child. The pain they experienced does not have to be exacerbated this way. The girls who stepped up to share their stories with us during the committee hearing were so brave and inspired the Legislature to act to protect other survivors like them. I am honored to continue advocating for them in the Senate.”