Senator Steve Saland Announces Passage Of Bill To Protect Special Education Students

Stephen M. Saland

June 18, 2007

Senator Steve Saland (R,I,C Poughkeepsie) today announced passage of his bill, S.4018, which requires prospective employees of publicly funded special education schools to be fingerprinted and subjected to a criminal history background check. It also requires that any allegation of abuse by an employee or volunteer in a special education school be immediately reported to law enforcement.

This bill builds upon a landmark law authored by Senator Saland in 2000, which required all prospective public school employees to submit their fingerprints for a criminal history background check before being cleared by the State Education Department to work in a public school. That 2000 law also required public school employees to report to law enforcement any allegations of physical or sexual abuse of a student by an employee or volunteer.

"Students in special education schools are particularly vulnerable and exposing them to the risk of abuse by individuals with criminal histories involving physical or sexual abuse of children is simply unconscionable," said Senator Saland. "Additionally, the parents of children with disabilities need to have confidence that when their children describe accounts of abuse to a school employee, they will be immediately reported."

New York City currently fingerprints employees of special education schools with which it contracts but there is no fingerprinting requirement in place for special education schools outside New York City that do not contract with the New York City School District. This bill would extend these safeguards to special education children in public schools across the State.