Albany, NY (August 16, 2011)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed a law to expand the list of convictions that disqualify a school bus driver from either permanently or temporarily operating a school bus.
"This law will protect our children by making sure those convicted of sexual offenses and other serious crimes are disqualified from becoming school bus drivers," Governor Cuomo said. "Keeping our children safe must always be a top priority and by signing this legislation we are putting in place additional precautions that will help protect our students. I thank Senator Bonacic and Assemblyman Pretlow for their work on this important legislation."
The law adds to the list of convictions that would either permanently disqualify an applicant from being a bus driver or disqualify the candidate for five years. Under the new law, crimes for which a conviction would ban a person from becoming a school bus driver include:
- aggravated manslaughter in the first or second degree
- aggravated sexual abuse in the second, third, and fourth degree
- sexual abuse in the first degree
- course of sexual conduct against a child in the first or second degree,
- facilitating a sex offense with a controlled substance
- predatory sexual assault
- sex trafficking
- disseminating indecent materials to minors in the first degree
- use of a child in a sexual performance
- promoting or possessing a sexual performance by a child
- aggravated assault upon a child less than 11 years old
- luring a child
- persistent sexual abuse
- aggravated criminally negligent homicide
- criminal sale of a controlled substance in or near school grounds
The law also changes from a temporary five-year prohibition to a permanent prohibition vehicular manslaughter in the first degree, aggravated vehicular homicide, and promoting prostitution in the first, second, or third degree. Additionally, added to the list of crimes which would result in a five-year prohibition are forcible touching and criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance. The law will take effect in 180 days.
Senator John Bonacic said, "This legislation is an important step in better protecting children. By making sure those who are convicted of a variety of sex crimes, including crimes against children, are unable to pass the required background check and become school bus drivers, we will make New York safer for all children. I appreciate Governor Cuomo's signing this legislation into law. I also want to single out and applaud the Onteora School District's Transportation Director, David Moraca, for bringing the need for this legislation to my attention."
Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow said, "I commend Governor Cuomo for signing into law this common sense legislation that provides a much needed update to our penal code. School bus drivers spend many hours with our children, and we must make sure these drivers have not been convicted of serious crimes that would jeopardize the safety of students."