For Immediate Release Contact: Andrew Moesel
June 21, 2009 212-725-2378(w); 347-852-3140(m)
New York, NY – Assembly Member Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island) joined with Local 237 President Greg Floyd and a crowd of his members outside City Hall on Sunday to announce legislation that will help protect students, teachers, administrators and school safety agents from potentially deadly attacks. Under the proposed legislation, assaults with a deadly weapon on school grounds would now be punishable by at least a 1-year prison sentence and $500 fine.
“Our schools should be a safe haven where students can learn and teachers can teach without fear. This law will ensure that the people who disrupt our schools with violence will pay a severe penalty” said Cusick. “Students, teachers and staff members’ only concern should be education.”
“Those who protect our students, the future of our city, deserve the highest protection from the law,” said Floyd, who represents the city’s 5,000 school safety agents. “This bill will make people think twice before assaulting the officers that keep our children safe.”
Under New York State law, attacks involving a “dangerous instrument” are classified as 2nd degree assault, a D felony, carrying a 1-5 year sentence and between $500-$5,000 in fines. Many of these cases, however, are often pleaded down to lesser crimes. This legislation prohibits plea bargains in such indictments from offering less than the original D felony when on school grounds, implementing a strong deterrent for violence on students, teachers and security personnel. The legislation also broadens the definition of a “dangerous instrument” to include umbrellas, which are often used in fights to cause serious injury.
The bill stems from an incident at a Bronx High School in which three teens allegedly assaulted school safety agent Michelle Love and another colleague after they told the students to move out of a restricted area. The three teens reportedly shoved and hit Ms. Love and the other agent, at one pointjamming the tip on an umbrella into Love’s eye. Love was rushed to the hospital where she received six stitches to close the eyelid gash. Charges against the teens are pending but would not be affected by the bill. The current legislation would only apply to cases that occur after its passage.
“I hope that this law prevents another situation like the one I suffered,” Love said.
The bill was introduced into the Assembly this week, and officials have already been in meetings with State Senate staff about companion legislation. Officials are hopeful the bill could be passed during the next legislative session this fall.