Assemblywoman Nily Rozic introduced legislation Monday requiring prospective employees at all schools across New York State to undergo fingerprinting and comprehensive, state-conducted background checks.
The legislation aims to protect students from abuse, while keeping predators out of all schools, both public and private. Long Island State Senator Todd Kaminsky introduced an identical version of the bill in the State Senate.
“With students spending a majority of their day in school, it is critical that their school environment be safe and supportive,” said Rozic. “Implementing a fingerprinting procedure that is already standard practice at public schools would provide families with peace of mind, knowing that all children are safe, no matter what school they attend.”
Under current law, public schools in New York State are mandated by Education Law § 305(30) to fingerprint prospective employees who have contact with students and submit them for comprehensive background checks by the State Department of Criminal Justice Services and FBI.
However, such measures are optional for employees of New York’s non-public schools. Rozic and Kaminsky’s legislation would amend state law to require all elementary, middle and high schools — both public and non-public — across the state of New York to require the fingerprinting of all employees for the purposes of a government-conducted criminal background check.
Elliot Pasik, an attorney in private practice, co-founder and president of the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children, commended the lawmakers for listening and working towards passing the legislation to protect children in schools across New York State.
“The pleas of the child abuse victims, their families, and advocates, have not been in vain. Every voice has mattered. Every single activist has made a difference. Their perseverance, through trying times, has brought us here today,” said Pasik. “The State Legislature has listened. More than 400,000 non-public school children will be safer when the bill passes. If you want to work in a New York school, public or non-public, you must be fingerprinted, and screened for any serious criminal history.”
Pasik added, “I hope and pray that this bill gives some comfort to those families who have lost loved ones to the evil scourge of child sex abuse. The bill sponsors, State Senator Todd Kaminsky, and Assembly Member Nily Rozic, have shown decisive leadership. The Wall Street Journal, and their Education Reporter Leslie Brody, shined the brightest light possible on this issue. My colleagues and I are proud to have participated in this process. This is, genuinely, a people’s bill, born out of suffering, that seeks a brighter day for all school children.”