ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law on Tuesday legislation to expand the list of convictions that disqualify a person 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," 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 Sen. Bonacic and Assemblyman Pretlow for their work on this important legislation."
The law adds to the list of convictions that would either permanently disqualify a bus driver applicant 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.
Moreover, added to the list of crimes that would result in a five-year prohibition are forcible touching and criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance.
"This legislation is an important step in better protecting children," Bonacic said. "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 Gov. 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."
As SBF reported earlier this year, Moraca wrote to the editor of local newspaper the Daily Freeman, pointing out that the penal code violations in Section 509 (cc), regarding bus driver disqualifications, had not been updated since 1986. Bonacic said that the letter by Moraca, who is also a member of the New York Association for Pupil Transportation, prompted legislation to update the law.
The law will take effect in 180 days.