Galef-Serino bill would ensure schools are notified if an employee is arrested for a sex offense

Brookside Elementary School in Ossining, where a janitor accused of rape continued to work in close proximity to children because police never notified school officials. A new state bill would require districts receive notification if their employees are arrested for sexual offenses.

A recent incident at the Ossining School District has prompted a new bill that would ensure school districts are notified when if an employee is arrested for a sex offense.

In May, a custodian working in at the Brookside Elementary School was convicted of two felonies and two misdemeanors, including the third-degree rape of a victim under 17.

The employee was arrested more than a year ago, however, the Ossining School District was never notified by law enforcement.

The employee continued to have contact with students until an anonymous letter was sent to the school.

In order to prevent another situation like this, Sen. Sue Serino, R-Hyde Park, and Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, D-Ossining, have written legislation that ensures schools are promptly notified if any of their employees are arrested for sex offenses.

“We must do all we can by law to protect our children from sexual abuse,” Galef said. “It is appalling that a person can be arrested today in New York state as a sexual predator, and no notification occurs when that individual is employed in a school district or works with children.”

In New York state, it is currently not mandatory for police to notify schools if an employee is arrested for a sexual offense, only if the employee is convicted.

This bill (S. 6597/A.8382) would ensure that law enforcement immediately notify school administrators if an employee is arrested for a sexual offense.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that our law works to prevent these types of situations and to ensure that our schools,” Serino said, “and our law enforcement agencies, have the tools they need to better protect our children from being exposed to these dangerous individuals. That’s what this bill does.”

The bill, introduced June 6 in the Senate and June 12 in the Assembly, would indemnify school districts from damages related to the dissemination of criminal history when police or the school district have acted in good faith to ensure the safety of students.

The law, if passed, would take effect immediately.