New law puts the brakes on sex offenders driving school buses in New York

One would think this one a no-brainer: Should convicted pedophiles be permitted to drive school buses? Until this week, there was nothing in New York state law to prevent it.

On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law that expands the list of crimes that disqualify a person from becoming a school bus driver. The new law adds to the list of convictions that would either permanently disqualify an applicant from being a school bus driver or disqualify the candidate for five years.

The new law includes persons convicted of the following crimes:

  • 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 ban anyone convicted of first-degree vehicular manslaughter and promoting prostitution in the first, second, or third degree. Additionally, the following crimes would result in a five-year prohibition against being licensed to drive a school bus: forcible touching and criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance.

In signing the bill into law, 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.”

According to a published report in The New York Times, the law was not inspired by any specific event. Instead, it was prompted by a complaint from a member of the New York Association for Pupil Transportation that the laws governing criminal background checks for prospective bus drivers had not been updated since 1986.

Sen. John Bonacic, a sponsor of the legislation, 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.”

To see a text of the bill, visit http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S3100-2011.