The New York State Senate today passed legislation that makes it a crime for any school employee or volunteer to have sexual contact with a student, even if that student is at the age of consent. The bill (S.1358), sponsored by Senator Betty Little (R-C-I, Queensbury) is intended to further protect full-time students from employees who engage in inappropriate relationships.
“A student needing a grade to get into college, or a recommendation for a job, could be vulnerable to the advances of a teacher or other school employee,” said Senator Little. “Being of an age to legally consent doesn’t mean the relationship is appropriate. In fact, it could be very harmful. Much like laws prohibiting sexual relationships between doctors and patients, this legislation would offer students the same kind of legal protection.”
New York State’s legal age of consent is 17. By taking a child’s school status into consideration, this bill removes an elementary or secondary school student’s ability to consent and bans sexual conduct between a school employee and a student. Violations would be a class E felony and carry a sentence of up to 4 years in prison.
The legislation also addresses any adult that is in a position of trust in a school by defining school employees as anyone receiving compensation from a school district where services performed involved district student contact. It would also include any person, other than an employee, who provides services to a school or school district which involve direct student contact.
The bill will be sent to the Assembly.