New law provides equal protection for private school students

Assemblyman David McDonough, photo courtesy of the New York State Assembly.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law on December 7 that requires all private schools in the state to report allegations of sexual abuse.

Previously, only public schools were mandated to report these kinds of allegations.

Assemblyman Dave McDonough, R-Merrick, was the original author of legislation that was signed into law late Friday by Gov. Cuomo which mandates that private school administrators, all staff and volunteers must report allegations of abuse as is currently the case with public schools (S. 7372-b/A.8485-b).

McDonough called for the governor to sign this bill into law last Thursday.

McDonough first authored this legislation in 2016 and worked across the aisle with chair of the Assembly Education Committee Catherine Nolan, D-Queens, to pass a version identical to his that was authored by a Democrat in the Majority.

Republicans in the Assembly often hand off legislation to Democrats in the majority to have a better chance of it surviving the legislative process. This bill passed both the Assembly and Senate unanimously.

“I applaud Gov. Cuomo, Education Chair Catherine Nolan, and my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate for continuing to push this crucial bill all the way to the governor’s desk and beyond,” McDonough said. “Although I originally introduced this bill in 2016, I was content with working across the aisle and garnering Democrat support to see that these protections were realized for the sake of hundreds of thousands of private school students across the state.

The Senate bill was sponsored by Sen. Patrick Gallivan, R-Elma.

“Although much of government can seem gridlocked and divisive, this is a beautiful example of how bipartisanship and good government can produce beneficial results, and I am proud to have spearheaded such a victory,” McDonough  said.

The NY Daily News last week reported that a student at the Chapin School in New York City collected more than 12,000 signatures requesting that Gov. Cuomo sign this bill into law.

“Students who attend private school should have the same voice as any other student in New York,” McDonough said just hours before the bill was signed into law. “And this dangerous loophole is giving predators an avenue to silence their victims and it must be corrected immediately.” 

According to the sponsor’s memo in the bill, reports surfaced that allegations of child abuse were not reported and the accused would either silently resign or transfer to another district, due to the fact that private schools were not covered in Article 23-B of the Education Law. The bill makes sure that school administrators and superintendents are required to report these allegations immediately.  

The bill will take effect in 180 days.