August 27, 2014

Confusion Remains Surrounding Sex Offender Photos Law

There is no doubt in this writer's mind, that, Louisiana is the cruelest state when it comes to its 10,824 registrants (NCMEC latest figure); and clearly violates the U.S. Constitution clause against cruel and unusual punishment! Personal opinion!
8-27-2014 Louisiana:

Confusion, mis-information or no information continue to be a theme for Louisiana State Representative Barbara Norton's law on posting sex offender photos in schools where *kids* can see them.

At the end of last school year KTBS spot checked 4 local schools. 1 in Bossier and 3 in Caddo, most were not in compliance with the law. Photos of sex offenders were posted in teacher lounges and places that students would not regularly have access to, thus defeating the purpose of Norton's Act 859.

"I wanted to give children the opportunity to see the faces of some of these predators," said Louisiana State Representative Barbara Norton.

So how are the school districts of Northwest Louisiana doing now as we start another school year?

"We have sent out notices to the schools asking them to post all of the sexual offender notifications where anyone at the school and entering the school, which includes students can see those notifications," said Roy Murry, Director of Security for Caddo Parish Schools.

I visited 2 schools in the Caddo School district, C.E. Byrd High School has the photos posted in one of the main hallways just down from the front entrance.

Broadmoor Middle School posts the photos right inside the front door where everybody can see them... students, teachers and visitors.

"That's one of the things we check now when we are going on to school campuses, is where are you posting the notifications. Second week of school, I'm not going to make any promises, but I'm going to say that at least 95% of the schools are in compliance. If we find one that's not, we certainly correct that and move on, and make sure that everyone is in compliance," said Murry.

Over in Bossier Parish...

"It was recently brought to our attention that the verbiage has changed to where now it says that these photographs must be place in a conspicuous place where students can view them, so we are currently working with our principals to find a place appropriate to post these pictures where students can see them at anytime," said Sonja Bailes, Public Relations Liaison Bossier Parish Schools.

As was the case at Elm Grove Middle School where the pictures have a spot on a wall that can be accessed at anytime by students.

As for where the pictures will be posted in Bossier Parish Elementary Schools there's still some discussion as to what this specific part of the law says and what discretion each principal has on where the pictures must be posted.

The Law says: "The principal shall post notices at the school, in conspicuous areas accessible by all students attending the school, which contain a photograph of the offender and which state the offender's name, address and a statement on the notice, commensurate with the education level of the school, which is in the discretion of the principal."

"It does give some latitude to our principals in K through 3 or younger aged children. So we give them their discretion as to where they think is best to post those pictures," said Bailes

So right now these pictures are posted in a work room mainly for adults at Sun City Elementary in South Bossier. Students would not normally come through or enter this room on a regular basis.

This can be a touchy subject when it comes to the youngest kids in our schools.

"I mean I have had different elementary administrators concerned about when they posted the word sex, and they say for the next week they hear sex every time they turnaround. So there's concern about can they cover up the word sex. I just talked with a principal today that did their bulletin board as stranger danger and that's where they post them so that they can talk with their students about strangers," said Murry.

We also talked with representatives from Desoto and Webster School Districts to see how they were doing in compliance with the Law.

Webster Superintendent Dr. Daniel Rawls told me they were not even aware of a law that mandated sex offender photos be posted in schools until I called to ask some questions for this story. He said they will begin working immediately to do what's necessary to follow the law.

Over in Desoto Parish where the events surrounding Justin Bloxom's murder were the motivation for Norton's law, I spoke with Director of Student Services Darrel Hampton. He said Desoto Parish is still trying to comply with the law at this time. They are attempting to have the postings available to everyone who enters the school's on a video monitor. Right now, that is still a work in progress.

Act 859 was passed back in the 2010 Louisiana legislative session , so at this point it has been a full 4 years since the law went into effect. ..Source.. by T.W. Starr

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