Senator Patrick M. Gallivan, (R-C-I, Elma) announces legislation (S-7372) to close a loophole in state education law governing the reporting of child abuse in an educational setting has passed the Senate Committee on Children and Families. The bill introduced by Gallivan also expands the professions within a school required to report abuse. The bill is in response to recent news reports of sexual abuse revelations at the Nichols School in Buffalo.
“It is our responsibility to help ensure that all children are protected from abuse,” Gallivan said. “Acts of abuse by teachers, school employees or others in a position of power must be reported to the proper authorities regardless of the educational setting. No schools should be exempt from this requirement.”
Gallivan’s legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Christopher Jacobs (R-C-I, Buffalo) and Michael H. Ranzenhofer (R-C-I, Amherst).
"I have no idea why private schools were excluded from the original reporter law that was passed years ago, but it needs to change and change immediately," said Jacobs.
“No school should be excluded from child abuse reporting requirements, and this loophole in state education law must be closed. I applaud Senator Gallivan for his efforts on this issue, and I am pleased that this legislation is advancing in the State Senate,” said Ranzenhofer.
Under current law, private schools are not included within the education law governing the reporting of child abuse in an educational setting, potentially putting students attending private schools at a greater risk. The proposed legislation would amend the law to require that allegations of abuse at private schools be reported directly to law enforcement. This would also apply to charter schools, state supported and state operated schools, Special Act School Districts, and boards of cooperative educational services (BOCES).
The bill also expands the responsibility for reporting abuse allegations to include therapists, speech-language pathologists, teacher aides, school resource officers and any employee who contracts with a school to provide transportation to children.
The legislation further amends education law to require that all teachers and administrators employed by a private or charter school to complete two hours of training regarding the identification and reporting of child abuse.
The legislation will go to the full Senate for consideration.