Bed bug school disclosure bill also passed by NY legislature

by nobugsonme on June 28, 2010 · 6 comments

in bed bug disclosure, bed bug laws, bed bugs, bed bugs in schools, new york, new york city

Remember the bill which would require New York State school districts to notify all parents of children in the school if a bed bug is found there?

New York Assembly Member Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Queens) has been expressing concern about this issue since late 2006, when reports of bed bugs in NYC public schools were just beginning to be made public, and Gianaris first proposed a parental notification bill in the Assembly back in 2007.

This bill has passed in the Assembly several times: in 2007 as A6667a, after which it died in the Senate, and again in 2008 and 2009 as A6667b — again and again, dying in the Senate.

Well, this spring, Gianaris’s little-bill-that-could finally made it through the Assembly and the Senate, as  A5434 (S4472).

It has now been passed and is awaiting Governor David Paterson’s signature.

This is good news!

This law will apply to all school districts in New York State with a million or more students. (I hope in future that it is extended to all schools.)  It will take effect on the July 1st after it is signed into law; in other words, it will not likely become effective until 7/1/2011.

The previous policy — still in effect — is that parents of an “affected” child would be automatically notified of bed bugs in the school. (I wrote about the problems with that approach back in 2007.) It is not clear who the “affected” students were, but as I understand it, students might be considered “affected” if bed bugs were actually on them, or on their bags.

Not only does the bill require principals to notify all of the childrens’ parents immediately when a bed bug is found in school; the notification sent

… shall also include information regarding proper procedures to prevent further infestations at the school and to prevent the transfer of bedbugs from the school to the residences of students. Such information may be developed by the board of education in consultation with other city agencies and shall be available in various languages as deemed necessary.

This is very important. Parents whose children attend a school where a bed bug was found should not panic, but do need information on how to help children avoid bringing bed bugs into the home (or taking them to school).

We can only hope that parents also also pointed to information on bed bug detection and treatment. The last thing anyone wants is for a principal to send a “bed bug letter” and for parents to start deploying treatments which are ineffective or which can make problems worse (like bug bombs).

The law will also require the infestation to be “properly addressed in the most effective and safe manner.”

Bed bugs are now becoming a problem in schools everywhere. Schools need to deal with bed bugs appropriately and to warn parents of their presence — and educate parents about how to detect and, if necessary, deal with bed bugs in their homes.

Bed bug legislation is rarely a perfect solution to the bed bug problem, but a bill like this can do a lot to help.

My only regret is that the Senate resisted this bill for so long.

Consider this: there were 34 cases of bed bugs at 24 schools in October and November 2006.  In January and February 2007, there were 72 cases at 43 schools, according to the NYC Department of Education as cited in this NY Post article from April 2007.  In other words, the number of cases had more than doubled in four months.  How many bed bugs have been spotted in NYC schools since February 2007?!?

Many New York City families would surely have been alerted about their childrens’ potential exposure to bed bugs in the past three years if this legislation had gone through more swiftly.

Congratulations to Michael Gianaris and the co-sponsors who have fought so valiantly for this legislation, for so long.

Michael N. Gianaris (D-Astoria, Queens)

michael gianaris

Update 9/2/2010:

The bed bug school disclosure bill has now been signed into law.  More from the Daily News.

1 Jim Smith June 29, 2010 at 9:19 am

has anybody had any success treating an entire house with heat to get rid of bed bugs? because rather than chemicals i would like to treat the whole house rathar than a room or two, just to be safe.

2 nobugsonme June 29, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Hi Jim,

My understanding is that heat treatment should always be done by an expert, and that it should always encompass the entire house. (Although in the case of buildings, entire apartments can be done if that is the extent of infestation.)

Other forms of treatment also generally should be done of the whole home.

For feedback from people who’ve had heat treatments done, PLEASE come to the Bedbugger Forums:

You will get many more readers and respondents there, and the conversation is off-topic in this thread.


3 Bugbuster July 1, 2010 at 11:45 am

This bill is a great step in the right direction. BUT if the DoE does not upgrade its treatment protocols, which right now are limited to a cursory perimeter spritz like you’d do for roaches and no follow up treatment or inspection of adjacent spaces, all that will happen is increased panic as regular notes go out to parents that yet another bug has been ID’d.

4 nobugsonme July 1, 2010 at 11:10 pm


You’re absolutely right. This is just one part of the puzzle, and the NYCDOE definitely needs to do a good job on treatment.

Even with the best skills and protocol, the restrictions on pesticide use in NYC public schools puts pest pros at a disadvantage there, and they really do need to know what they’re doing and do it aggressively.

5 lepidoptery July 13, 2010 at 6:06 pm

So… what about a bill to require parents to notify schools when they have bedbugs at home?

6 nobugsonme July 13, 2010 at 6:09 pm

How exactly would you enforce it?

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