Oswego schools restrict sex offenders' access to buildings

Parsons Sun, N.Y.

The safety of children in school has become a top priority for districts across the nation in recent years.

Magnetic door locks, cameras inside and out, visitor check-in and IDs, officers on campus and emergency crisis plans have been implemented.

Students in many schools are still exposed to danger, said Oswego USD 504 superintendent Terry Karlin. Only a handful of schools in the nation have adopted plans to protect children from sex offenders, he said.

While some states (Kansas excluded) have laws stating that sex offenders cannot live within 500 to 1,000 feet of a school, most states, including Kansas, have no laws keeping sex offenders from entering schools or attending school events.

Because some sex offenders are parents, creating laws that do not disenfranchise them from their rights as parents is a concern. But so is protection of other children, Karlin said.

Idaho adopted laws limiting sex offenders' access to schools, protecting both offender parents' rights and students' rights.

Labette County has 44 registered sex offenders living inside its borders, according to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and 15 of those list an Oswego address, although nine are residents of the Labette Correctional Conservation Camp. Because of this, the USD 504 board voted this week to implement a policy restricting sex offenders' access to school property.

"Obviously, we have known sex offenders that live in the district and obviously we have some that have children," Karlin said. "Coffeyville school district has a similar policy."

Although not every person required to register as a sex offender poses a threat to students, Karlin said, by law the district is not allowed to isolate or distinguish between one offender or another based on their violations, so the district had to make its policy all encompassing.

"If they are going to be on our grounds, it will be under the supervision as outlined," Karlin said.

The policy states: "The board prohibits registered sex offenders from entering any district school building, being on the grounds of any attendance center or in any district-owned vehicle used to transport students to and from school or to and from any school-related activity unless such registered sex offender is a parent or guardian of a student enrolled at a particular school and fulfilling responsibilities as follows:

"1. Attending a conference at a school with school personnel to discuss the academic or social performance and/or progress of his/her child.

"2. Participating in a student review conference wherein decisions may be made with respect to his/her child's needs regarding special education services; or

"3. Attending a conference to discuss other student issues concerning his/her child such as discipline, retention or promotion.

"When it is necessary for a registered sex offender to be involved in parent responsibilities as stated above the offender will first notify the superintendent to request permission to be on school property. If permission is granted, the superintendent will inform the building principal who will then schedule the time and place as appropriate for the conference or meeting," the policy states.

"If a sex offender desires to be on school property or enter any school building for any reason other than stated above, including attending programs, concerts or school activities, the offender must first notify the superintendent to get special permission. Each such request will be considered individually and permission granted or denied based on the nature of the offender(s) conviction(s), the age of the students involved, and the district's ability to provide adequate supervision during the time the offender will be on school property.

"Upon entering any building, the sex offender will report directly to the principal's office to sign in and be recognized as a visitor to the building.

"If such conference or meeting is during school hours, the offender must always remain under the direct supervision of a school official.

"Any sex offender that violates any terms or provisions of this policy will be immediately referred to local law enforcement for prosecution."

To ensure it knows exactly who is registered as a sex offender, the district visits the KBI Web site frequently.

"If a parent or guardian has a record, we are generally aware, and we take precautions," Karlin said.

All those listed on the site living in the district or with children attending school in the district will be sent a copy of the district's new policy, Karlin said.

"We will rigorously enforce this policy," Karlin said, "We take our responsibility for the security of our students and staff seriously."

Although the majority of sex offenders in the county have registered addresses in Parsons (25 of the 44), USD 503 superintendent Deb Perbeck said the district has no board policy in place prohibiting sex offenders from participating in their child's education.

The board also has no policy preventing any other sex offender from visiting the building or going to school events, but Perbeck said, "We have quite a bit of security at our buildings and strong adult supervision of our students at events so we know where they are and what they are doing."

[Ed: Obviously, this law is essential to prevent the thousands of children who are abducted from school buildings each year. What's that? There have been NO abductions from school by stranger pedophiles that anyone can recall? Well then, it's still essential to SEND A MESSAGE that we will be lying in wait for the first pedophile who attempts to do this! And we can never have too many laws on our books.]

1 comment:

f said...

Obviously, most of the sex-offender restrictions aren't based on any rational research, or even common sense. They are an expression of mindless outrage and frustration, frustration that despite passing hundreds of ever harsher and more punitive laws, crimes involving sex still (shock!) periodically occur!

It seems to be a vicious cycle. The more laws that are passed ostracizing sex-offenders, the more attention sex crimes are given in the media, which rallies cries for even more laws. It's difficult to see where this will end, unless eventually people who are convicted of *any* crime involving sex are given mandatory life-sentences for a first-offense (which is essentially what they are given now anyways with all of these restrictions which are nearly impossible to abide by). There are no signs of this hysteria slowing down anytime soon.

[note to author/editor] There is an interesting article in the New York Times about calls for more sex offender restrictions. Now people want sex offenders restricted from "certain" public places (soon to be most public places, no doubt).