Tuesday, February 25, 2014
NATIONAL BACKGROUND CHECKS (BCI) LEGISLATION HAS BEEN INTRODUCED, YOUR SUPPORT IS NECESSARY TO MAKE SURE IT BECOMES LAW TO HELP PROTECT OUR CHILDREN ON SCHOOL BUSES, SCHOOL CAFETERIAS, ETC.
(Giarrusso on L, Arizona J. on R)
On January 29, 2014, State Rep. Anthony Giarrusso (R-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) introduced legislation requiring national background checks for all employees of firms contracting with Rhode Island school districts, with “the full support” of Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin.
Currently, federal background checks are not required for bus monitors or drivers. School personnel, such as, teachers, are required to undergo National BCI checks, the requirement should extend to bus personnel that come in contact with our children. “We have a growing trove of criminal background information available to us, locally and nationally, but we fail to take full advantage of it when vetting those who come into contact with school children,” Mr. Giarrusso wrote in a press release. Investigation revealed a loophole in state law which required background checks only for direct employees of public and private schools and school districts. The new legislation, developed in cooperation with the Attorney General, would expand the definition of employment to include contract employees and employees of third-party contractors, such as school bus drivers and monitors, cafeteria staff, etc.
At the cornerstone of this bill were two incidences that occurred at the end of last year- the assault of 13 year old Arizona Jacobowitz, diagnosed with autism and limited communication skills, on October 7, 2013 by First Student bus monitor, James Canton and First Student bus driver, James Miller, in Barrington, R.I. and the arrest of Scott Sanford, a 35 year old Ocean State Transit School Bus monitor, of East Greenwich, on the afternoon of Oct. 31, along with 10 others, as part of a Rhode Island State Police investigation into child pornography, Mr. Giarrusso’s 11 year old son rode on Sanford’s bus.
“I cannot imagine a scenario in which this legislation does not receive overwhelming support in the House and Senate this year. This bill expands protection of school children across the state, and helps ensure our kids are not placed in vulnerable situations with people hired to care and look after them,” Giarrusso said. Giarrusso’s bill was co-sponsored by four Democratic legislators, State Representatives Anastasia Williams (D-Providence), John G. Edwards (D-Portsmouth, Tiverton), Patricia Serpa (D- West Warwick, Coventry, and Warwick) and Donald Lally (D-Narragansett, South Kingstown).
Rhode Islanders and citizens from other states that believe children should be protected on the school bus as well as in school should pick up the telephone or send a letter to your legislator requesting that they introduce and/or support this bill and other bills that protect our most important commodity-our children.
Posted by Families Against Restraints and Seclusion of R.I. at 1:45 PM