New law requires permission for sex offenders to be at schools

jwarren@herald-leader.comJune 19, 2009 

Under a new state law, registered sex offenders would be barred from Kentucky school grounds and need advance written permission to enter school property.

The law, which goes into effect July 1, also would apply to licensed day-care facilities.

Kentucky law already prohibits sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds. A 2006 Urban County Government ordinance generally bars sex offenders who are under legal supervision from being within 1,000 feet of schools, child-care centers, parks, playgrounds and pools. State law also bars sex offenders from being hired by schools.

But the new measure, for the first time, specifically prohibits offenders from being on school or day-care property, according to Kentucky Education Department spokeswoman Lisa Gross.

However, the law's permission requirement takes into account that, under certain circumstances, an offender might have a legitimate need to go on school property, officials said.

Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Stu Silberman said those circumstances might include entering a school that is serving as a polling place on election day. Or an offender who is a parent might need to enter a school to pick up his or her child or to meet with the child's teachers, Silberman said.

The new law, adopted by the 2009 Kentucky General Assembly, provides that an offender first would have to secure written permission from the school principal, school board, or the day-care center director if a day-care center is involved. In applying for permission, the person would have to provide full disclosure of his or her status as an offender.

The Fayette County Board of Education is in the process of updating its policies to conform with the law, which also will require parent members of school decision-making councils to undergo criminal background checks.

Silberman said Fayette County's policy generally will be that any request from an offender to come onto school property would have to be reviewed by the school district's legal department before any decision is made.

"There could be some parameters set up for it," Silberman said. "For example, if it's a parent asking permission to come on school grounds to pick up a child, they might be told that they can't leave their car. Then, we would have someone escort the child out to the parent's car."

Silberman said there have been incidents in the past when the county schools told offenders that they couldn't come on school campuses.

"The biggest change is that now it is very clear that they have to notify the school before they come on any campus," he said. "Then we can make a decision as to whether they can come on or not.

"I think every situation will have to be looked at individually."

Reach Jim Warren at (859) 231-3255 or 1-8900-950-6397 Ext. 3255

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