Assemblyman Philip Ramos (D-Central Islip) has introduced a bill that requires school districts and boards of cooperative educational services (BOCES) to immediately report bias-related school offenses to law enforcement agencies (A.11659).
Ramos has been contacted by many concerned parents following a March 16 incident at East Islip High School that some have said was a race-related incident between white and Hispanic male students.
“We must teach our children that racial bias and ethnic clashes have no place in our schools,” said Ramos, a former police detective. “This legislation sets up a standard process of dealing with these serious offenses and will create awareness about this very dangerous issue faced by schools throughout the state.”
Ramos explained that the bill makes “bias-related offenses” synonymous with the penal law’s definition of hate crimes committed by adults.
The bill requires that teachers, administrators or other school employees immediately report bias-related offenses committed on school property to law enforcement agencies for investigation. The bill also mandates that school districts cooperate with the agencies investigating and/or prosecuting the offenses.
Ramos said the bill allows for the appropriate involvement of law enforcement officials without preventing schools from investigating the complaints on their own.
“In the past, school districts and other educational institutions have used various standards for dealing with complaints of bias-related crimes,” said Ramos. “This legislation establishes a more consistent and fair approach in dealing with these important, sensitive matters. We must maintain our state’s commitment to both educating and protecting our children, and we must do it impartially. Because most importantly, our children deserve to learn in the safest environment we can provide.”