Phoebe ’17, along with Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, drafted a bill that passed in the Assembly of Education Committee in early April and the Senate of Education Committee in late May. The bill will be sent to Governor Jerry Brown in the next few months for his signature. The Bill AB 2621, or Phoebe’s Bill, would mandate that each public and private school in California make its teacher code of conduct public by mailing it to the homes of students and posting it on the school website so it is readily available.
“The whole point of the bill is that it raises awareness and transparency about what the boundaries are between teachers and students, because many times there are issues regarding grey areas,” Phoebe said.
After former English Instructor Joe Koetters pleaded guilty to sexual harassment at Marlborough in 2015, Phoebe wanted to create a bill to prevent similar situations from happening at other schools. When coming up with this solution, she knew she had to draft a bill that was both plausible and passable, but would still make an impact on California schools.
She researched the behavior of sexual predators by looking at other cases similar to what happened at Marlborough, specifically how predators systematically groom their victims over time. Grooming is the process by which a sexual predator befriends and establishes trust with the minor they intend to assault, making the minor more likely to keep the abuse a secret when it happens.
“If a little alarm is raised when a little boundary is crossed, we’re much more likely to prevent a big boundary [from] being crossed, such as an actual sexual assault,” Phoebe said while explaining the goals of her bill to the Senate Education Committee.
Head of School Priscilla Sands said she applauded Phoebe’s efforts to pass the bill.
“My primary thought is that I am proud of any student who takes initiative and wants to affect change and has a stake in a political outcome. My strongest feeling is support and pride in a student who wants to take on something that’s important to her,” Sands said.
If Phoebe’s Bill is approved by Governor Jerry Brown, it could be signed into law and take effect by fall of the 2017-2018 school year.