Two Hudson Valley lawmakers are working with local parents and police to push for legislation (A.8382/S.6597) they say would protect children from sex offenders working in their schools.
The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, D-Ossining, and Sen. Sue Serino, R-Hyde Park, would require that all schools are immediately notified if any of their employees are arrested for sex offenses.
Earlier this year, a longtime Ossining school custodian was convicted of two misdemeanors and two felonies, including the third-degree rape of a victim under the age of 17, taking many in the community by surprise.
During the course of the criminal case against him, the employee continued to work in the school, in direct contact with students. School administrators were not aware of the situation until an anonymous handwritten letter was delivered to the superintendent’s office after the man was found guilty of the crimes.
A loophole in current state law does not require schools to be provided with arrest notifications of employees hired before 2001.
The Serino-Galef bill would amend the Education Law by requiring local police to immediately notify school superintendents of any employee’s arrest for a sex crime, regardless of the year they were hired.
“Schools should be a safe place for all students, and the adults that young people come in contact with should be trustworthy and should never be a threat to the safety and security of the children and their studies,” Galef said at a press conference Tuesday outside the Anne M. Dorner Middle School in Ossining. “This bill will help … ensure that this troubling situation never happens again.”
The assemblyoman was joined by Ossining School District Superintendent Raymond Sanchez, Ossining Police Chief Kevin Sylvester and concerned Ossining PTA parents.
“The situation that occurred in Ossining demonstrates a clear vulnerability in our system and we have a duty to fix the problem and ensure that our law actively works to protect our children against potential predators,” Serino said. This bill is about making sure our schools and law enforcement have the tools they need keep our children from being exposed to dangerous individuals.”
The bill resides in the Assembly Education Committee and the Senate Rules Committee. There is one co-sponsor in each house — John McDonald in the Assembly and Kathy Marchione in the Senate.
Stacy Levine, a representative from the Ossining Schools Parent Teacher Association, said, “if we don’t get this legislation passed, who’s to say that the next time this happens, won’t be to one of our children in school.
“Nobody should be withholding information from our district that could ever put a child at risk regardless of when they started working here.”