Elected officials pushing new law in response to Nichols report

The District Attorney of Erie County and a state senator had tough words Wednesday, five days after a report was released, detailing misconduct by several former teachers at the Nichols School in Buffalo.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The District Attorney of Erie County and a state senator had tough words Wednesday, five days after a report was released, detailing misconduct by several former teachers at the Nichols School in Buffalo.

A report compiled by an independent law firm discovered 10 former teachers engaged in sexual activity or inappropriate relationships with students there between the 1960s and mid-2000s. Now, District Attorney John Flynn and Senator Tim Kennedy are joining those calling for changes to the law.

“Even more disturbing was the report’s conclusion that three former administrators knew about the alleged behavior, but took no steps to report it to the proper authorities,” Sen. Kennedy said during a press conference Wednesday morning.

One of the laws he would like to change would make that a misdemeanor offense. Kennedy and Flynn are supporting legislation that would require private school administrators to report allegations of child abuse committed by school staff. That’s currently only required for public school officials.

“I can assume that the provision to the education law only focused on public schools because someone probably made the argument at one point that public school administrators are paid for by the taxpayers,” explained Flynn.

According to a Nichols spokesperson, mandatory reporting policies are now taught to staff.

“For the past six years, Nichols has trained faculty and staff on mandatory reporting, though not required to do so,” a school statement said. “The safety and well-being of all students in our primary focus.”

Flynn and Kennedy also renewed their support for the Child Victims Act. That would give victims more time to take criminal or civil action against their abuser. Right now, action must be taken before the victim turns 23. The bill would also give victims an additional year to bring claims if the statute of limitations has already passed.

“It is the Senate Republicans who control the majority that have failed to bring the Child Victims Act to the floor for a vote,” said Kennedy. “I am absolutely certain that this bill will pass.”

When asked about the bill’s status, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said, “Senate Republicans authored New York’s version of ‘Megan’s Law’ and have passed dozens of bills protecting children from dangerous sexual predators. And, we’re going to do even more. This particular bill, along with a number of similar measures sponsored by members of our Senate Republican conference, are currently under review.”

Local Republican Senator Chris Jacobs has already expressed support for the bill requiring mandatory reporting for private school administrators.

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