Mandated Police and Parent Notification When Convicted Pedophiles Are Allowed On School Campuses Passes Committee
SACRAMENTO –Legislation generated by the families of St. Frances Cabrini School students to require school officials to consult with law enforcement and parents before allowing a registered sex offender to volunteer at campus activities won approval today in a key vote before the Senate Education Committee.
“Senate Bill 326 closes a loophole in the law allowing a registered child molesters to simply gain approval from a school administrator to participate in campus events with kids without the knowledge of police, parole officers, and parents,’’ said Senator Jim Beall, who authored the bill.
“I highly respect the work of school administrators but I do not think they should be able to make a unilateral decision to allow a registered sex offender to work closely with children in the absence of notifying law enforcement officers who fully understand the offender’s criminal history. Equally important, parents must be told that a person convicted of a sexual crime is volunteering or working at the school that their children attend.’’
SB 326 was introduced in February after a group of concerned parents whose children are enrolled at St. Frances Cabrini School in San Jose met with Beall to register their deep concern that a convicted child molester was able to obtain the permission from the Diocese of San Jose to participate as an unsupervised volunteer at parish and school activities. A parent recognized the registered sex offender at a parish festival and reported it to authorities.
Another parent, John Hernandez, whose child attends St. Frances Cabrini, met with Senator Beall last year and requested the law be tightened to avoid a repeat of the incident. Hernandez is now a member of the school’s safety committee, which is comprised of school administrators and parents.
“My wife and I support this bill because it gives us the information we need to make informed decisions regarding our children’s safety,’’ Hernandez said Wednesday. “It comes down to protecting our children.’’
SB 326 mandates several steps before a school administration can grant permission to a registered sex offender to be on school grounds. Those steps include contacting the registering law enforcement agency to determine the registrant’s risk assessment score, potential for re-offending as well as to obtain the facts relating to the conviction and, if available, the police and pre-sentencing reports.
If the law enforcement authority concludes the registrant still poses a moderate to high risk for re-offending and the school administration still wants to grant the registered offender access to the campus, the school’s officials must notify parents of the decision.