Saland Announces Senate Passage Of Bill To Protect Special Education Students

Stephen M. Saland

May 27, 2008

Senate Bill 5774 amends the Education Law to provide that prospective employees of special education schools must undergo the same fingerprinting and criminal history background checks as employees of public schools and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). Additionally, the bill would subject employees of special education schools to the same child abuse reporting requirements as public schools and BOCES.

In 2000, during his tenure as the Chairman of the Senate Children and Families Committee, Senator Saland authored landmark legislation to require that prospective public school employees be subjected to a criminal history background check to determine their fitness to work in school settings. That law also requires that any allegation of physical or sexual abuse by an employee or volunteer against a student be immediately reported to law enforcement. The law is working exactly as Senator Saland intended – it is helping to keep those who might put children at risk out of schools and it makes sure allegations of sexual abuse are being heard and acted on. This bill extends those protections to children in special education schools.

“As the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, the protection of children is my top priority,” said Senator Saland. “Without these safeguards, those who are unable to obtain employment in a public school due to their criminal history, could very well get a job in a special education school, working with an even more vulnerable student population. It is vitally important that the parents of disabled students in New York have confidence that those who work with their children in school do not have dangerous criminal backgrounds and that, if their children are victimized in school, it will be immediately reported to law enforcement. We should do no less,” Saland added.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly for consideration.