The New York State Senate today passed a measure to prevent threats of school violence that not only disrupt schools, but can also cause significant distress among the entire community. The bill (S430A) sponsored by Senator Patrick Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) would help update the law to reflect the changing nature of threats made against schools, often due to social media.
Senator Gallivan said, “The current law is inadequate and must be expanded. Any threat of violence against a school creates fear for students, faculty, staff and parents. It also disrupts the learning process, often forcing schools to go into lockdown or cancel activities, not to mention the enormous strain it puts on law enforcement. Individuals who cause such chaos should face the harshest penalty possible.”
The bill expands the existing laws in place to prevent school bomb threats so that other types of threats can be prosecuted as well. Under current law, an individual who threatens a fire, explosion or release of a hazardous substance on school grounds is guilty of a class D felony of falsely reporting an incident in the first degree. This measure would also make it a felony for someone to issue a threat of intentional acts or a continued course of action of serious physical harm to 10 or more people on school grounds.
In one such instance, a school community in Walton, Delaware County, was the subject of repeated violent threats shortly after the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. An individual used social media to explicitly target students and school events, though she did not specifically make a bomb threat. This bill would help ensure that all threats of mass violence against a school receive appropriate felony-level penalties.
The bill will be sent to the Assembly.