Contact: Joshua Fitzpatrick, (518) 455-3751
For Immediate Release:
February 26, 2008

Tedisco to Introduce Legislation to Close Loophole
in State's Child Abuser Registry
Proposes measure that would amend New York's Social Service Law to allow
school nurses access to Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment

In response to a Saratoga Springs school bus driver's recent arrest for sexually abusing two boys - and the school district being unable to learn that, dating back to 2002, the man had appeared on a state-run registry of possible child abusers - Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga) today announced he will introduce legislation to close the loophole.

"When I learned that a school bus driver was arrested for sexually abusing two boys and that school officials were unable to access a state registry that could have alerted them to his having been flagged a potential danger to youths back in 2002, I saw a glaring loophole that cried out for immediate closure," Tedisco stated.

The Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment - operated by the State Office of Children and Family Services - receives calls alleging child abuse or maltreatment throughout New York. The register relays information to local Child Protective Service for investigation, monitors their prompt response, and identifies if there are prior child abuse or maltreatment reports. The registry receives calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week from two sources: persons who are required by law to report suspected cases of child abuse and maltreatment, such as social service workers and law enforcement officials, and calls from non-mandated reporters, such as the public.

However, in its current configuration, access to the registry is strictly limited and precludes school officials, along with the general public. Tedisco indicated that he will introduce legislation that would effectively amend Section 422 of the State's Social Services Law to add school nurses to the list of approved individuals who may access the registry.

"As helpful a tool as the State's Central Registry is, it could be even more effective if a representative on behalf of a school was allowed to access it. It seems counterproductive to deny schools access to this registry, as doing so keeps important information out of the hands of the very people who should know if someone's been flagged as a potential child abuser. Clearly, there is a compelling interest in school nurses - the health care professionals specifically trained to recognize signs of abuse, physical or otherwise, among students - having access to the registry," Tedisco said.

"The closure of this current loophole should be a bi-partisan issue, as it would give our schools another tool that could alert them to a suspected child abuser and possibly prevent a tragedy before it happens," Tedisco concluded.

Later this week, Tedisco expects to introduce his legislation that would add school nurses to the category of individuals who can access the State Central Registry.

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