October 20, 2012

Rochester superintendent may notify sex offenders to stay away from city schools: With the exception of public meetings

10-20-2012 New York:

ROCHESTER — The Rochester School Board’s Policy Committee adopted new language for its sex offender registry policies, stating the superintendent shall notify each known offender they are not allowed near school grounds or building, with the exception of attending public meetings.

The decision will go before the full board to approve the new policy in early November.
Policy Committee members mulled a new amendment to the existing policy on Thursday night.

Superintendent Michael Hopkins said after the meeting the new change allows him to mail a letter to each sex offender on the local registry, alerting them to stay away from school grounds and buildings.

According to the Right-to-Know law, however, those on the registry cannot be prevented from attending public meetings in those buildings.

Board member James Gray raised a concern, noting the policy does not address children when they are at their “most vulnerable,” walking to school and waiting at school bus stops.

“We have cameras, the doors are secured on the buildings, et cetera, but the more vulnerable time, in my opinion, is their trip to and from school,” Gray said. “Although this policy is fine for what it’s trying to say, it doesn’t go into the areas that I think it ought to go into.”

Hopkins said it is very difficult for the district to keep tabs on that part of a student’s school life, especially when factors outside of the district’s control don’t allow for such monitoring or regulation.

“….What we might want to do with that, we can’t do,” Hopkins said. “I would prefer that maybe when (sex offenders) were sentenced or released that they had restrictions, but I found that they don’t have that … That’s the unfortunate part. There have been proposals to try to restrict some of that (but) I understand what you’re saying.”

Board member Matt Pappas asked Hopkins if there was any way of knowing whether a local sex offender resided near children’s bus stop but Hopkins said the list is so large, and so ever-changing, that would be extremely difficult to monitor as well.

“The sad conundrum, of course, is that there are so many in the community … and those are only the ones who are identified,” Hopkins said. ...continued... by Samantha Allen

No comments: