Editorial: Stop private schools’ ability to ‘pass the trash’

The Journal News

January 26, 2018

New York private school administrators should follow the same reporting rules as public school administrators when it comes to reports of abuse. Shockingly, they are not mandated, under current state law, to alert authorities to reports of child abuse in the educational setting, nor to report a worker’s resignation after such accusations.

State legislators are poised to vote on a bill that would align private school reporting rules with what’s expected of public school leaders. Passage of this legislation should have happened years ago.

Public schools have been mandated since 2000 to report suspicions of sex abuse by any staff, faculty or volunteer in the school environment, whether in a classroom, on a field trip or bus, or during extra-curricular activities. But private school administrators don’t fall under such regulations. It was a mistake then, and it’s a mistake now.

The legislation (A5371/S4342) has gained wide support.The New York State Catholic Conference has said it supports the legislation, which aligns with changes the American bishops made years ago in the wake of abuse reports. Agudath Israel, an umbrella organization for Orthodox Jewry, has remained publicly mum on the bill.

[CHILD VICTIMS ACT: Senate blocks access for New Yorkers abused as kids]

This is a separate issue from the Child Victims Act, which would extend the statute of limitations for both civil and criminal charges in reporting child sex abuse. That bill has been sentenced to death-by-committee year after year in the Senate; advocates report that Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan continues to ignore their requests to meet and discuss the legislation. It’s time for compassion and justice to prevail. The legislation should finally be passed as part of the upcoming state budget process, at the very latest.

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