Virginia Legislation Would Require School Bathroom Checks Every 30 Minutes

Under House Bill 1528, public schools would require an employee in each school to check every restroom in the building once every 30 minutes.

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Under a bill proposed by a Republican delegate, Virginia schools could be required to have a school employee check every bathroom every half-hour to ensure students are safe.

The proposal follows a 2020 case in which a then 6-year-old elementary school student in Hampton was allegedly sexually assaulted by another student in a bathroom over a period of 18 months.

“It’s a working paper, so as it passes through, it may be amended,” said Del. A.C. Cordoza, R-Hampton, the bill’s patron. “Nothing is set in stone until … it gets that ink from the governor’s pen.”


Under the proposed House Bill 1528, named Celeste’s Law after the Hampton student, public schools would be required to have an employee in each school check every restroom in the building no less frequently than once every 30 minutes during normal school hours.

“If they are walking around, going to the bathrooms and checking them, on the way they’re also observing everything else that’s going on,” Cordoza said. “If someone is planning to do something to harm other students — they go to their locker, they grab something else — they may see that. So it’s really making the job more efficient.”

Cordoza said the culture in schools has changed in recent years, a factor that partly led him to introduce the bill.

He also said his legislation doesn’t envision teachers being taken out of the classroom to conduct the security checks. The bill specifically mentions employees conducting the checks would include “any school resource officer or any school security officer.”

“We don’t want to overburden school resource officers or SSOs either,” he said. “We just want to make sure our kids are safe, and I want to do that in the most effective and efficient way possible.”

Hampton case

Cordoza said he promised Nikia Miller, the mother of the Hampton student, that he would do everything he could to make sure a similar situation didn’t happen to any other children in his area or the commonwealth more broadly.

In March 2020, an elementary school principal in Hampton City Public Schools alerted Miller that her child had been sexually assaulted multiple times by another student who was a year older. Miller’s daughter was 6 when the alleged assaults began.

Miller told WAVY she believes there were at least 10 cases of assault against her daughter during an 18-month period. The child developed repeated anxiety and panic attacks and had to attend weekly therapy sessions, the mother said. She was also moved to another school.

Last year, Miller filed a $5 million lawsuit against Hampton schools, the Virginian-Pilot reported, saying the division had been negligent.

Hampton City Public Schools in response stated it had conducted an investigation along with the Hampton City Police Division that found two female second graders who attended different after-school programs had met in a girls’ restroom after school hours.

The school division said it had no knowledge of the encounters until after the fact.

“Hampton City Schools staff members remain committed to ensuring a safe and nurturing environment for all of our students,” the school division said in a statement to WTKR last year.

The school division said that at the parent’s request, it had enrolled the aggrieved student at another school and offered counseling.

The Hampton case isn’t the only Virginia incident to unfold in a school bathroom.

In 2021, a high school student in Loudoun County Public Schools assaulted two female students on separate occasions. The first assault occurred in a bathroom; subsequently, the teenager was transferred to another school, where he assaulted another student. The first victim has since filed a $30 million lawsuit against the school division, saying it failed to follow Title IX processes for sexual assaults or even begin an investigation until five months after the assault.

Cordoza, who said he is familiar with the Loudoun cases, said the General Assembly must “now proactively try and prevent it from happening.”

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: info@virginiamercury.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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