Keeping Children Safe This School Year

August 27, 2008
While many New York families make last-minute back-to-school preparations, they can rest assured that the Assembly worked this year to pass important legislation ensuring children return to a safe, responsible learning environment. Earlier this session, the Assembly passed two bills I supported, both signed into law by the governor, which will help accomplish these goals.

Now if a teacher is convicted of a sex offense, his/her license will be revoked and he/she will be immediately terminated (Ch. 296 of 2008). As a father, grandfather and legislator, I take the responsibility of ensuring our childrenís safety very seriously. We entrust teachers to educate, mentor and protect our children, and parents should feel confident when they send their children off to school that they are safe from dangerous individuals.

A second law revokes the professional license of any school administrator or supervisor convicted of defrauding the government in excess of $1,000 and removes that person from his or her job (Ch. 325 of 2008). When a school district leader abuses his or her power to that degree, that person should no longer serve in our community. This is a tough bill that will send corrupt school administrators a message: not in this state.

Prior to these new laws, there was no mechanism to immediately terminate the employment or revoke the teaching credentials of teachers and administrators convicted of sex crimes or of defrauding the government. These laws will expedite the revocation and termination process of convicted employees.

At the same time, we should reward responsible, hardworking teachers. My wife is a retired teacher and my son is currently teaching at a Syracuse high school. Thatís why I was proud to be the main sponsor of the bill designating the first Tuesday in May as New York State Teachers Appreciation Day (A.7569-B). This will be a great day of honor for those New York State teachers who work hard on a daily basis to educate, encourage and inspire our children.

I will remain vigilant in my efforts to protect Central New York families and to provide the best possible schools we can. Children are indeed our future, they should be safe and secure, on the streets and in our schools and should be given every opportunity to be happy and successful.