Senator Lanza Announces New Legislation To Combat Cases Of Teacher-student Sexual Misconduct

Andrew J Lanza

June 19, 2007

Members of the Senate Majority Conference announced legislation that will be advanced to help combat the sexual abuse of students in New York State. The bill would require the immediate decertification of teachers following a conviction for a serious crime against a child, and also includes a provision that will require schools to contact both the parents of an alleged child victim, as well as law enforcement, whenever a report of abuse is made.

"The relationship between a teacher and a student is one that should be based on trust, responsibility and professionalism, and when that trust is violated the impact on young students can be devastating," said Senator Andrew Lanza, member of the Senate Majority Task Force on Critical Choices. "This legislation will send a loud and clear message that we will not tolerate the sexual abuse of students in New York State."

"Parents have a right to know if an allegation has been made regarding their son or daughter being abused by a school employee. Administrators should no longer have the discretion to decide which cases to report to parents and law enforcement," said Lanza.

In addition to the immediate decertification of teachers upon conviction of a serious crime against a child, and the provision requiring schools to contact parents and law enforcement when a report of abuse is made, the Senate plan would also require better training concerning the issue of child abuse in a school setting.

Senator Lanza also called for the State Assembly to take action on legislation that the State Senate recently approved to address concerns about sexual misconduct involving school employees. These include the following:

· S.189, sponsored by Senator William Larkin (R-C, Cornwall-on-Hudson), which requires the suspension of pay for tenured teachers upon the conviction of a felony for possessing certain child sexual performance materials or promotion thereof.

· S.1116-B, sponsored by Senator Elizabeth Little (R-C-I, Queensbury) which provides that an elementary or secondary student shall not have capacity to consent to sexual conduct with a school employee, regardless of the student’s age.