A Virginia Beach school got wind that a parent is on the sex offender registry and banned him from school property. He petitioned for permission to attend events that parents usually attend--parent-teacher conferences, athletic events. The school gave him permission, though it restricted him from chaperoning field trips and having lunch with his child.
"Ultimately, we're looking to do what's best for the students," said Shirann Lewis, director of elementary schools, one of three division officials who review appeals.However, the next Virginia sex offender who fights to be able to enter school property will have a different kind of fight.
As of July 1, state law requires that offenders trying to gain access to schools buy an advertisement in a local newspaper alerting the public that they plan to petition the court. Also, members of the public now may submit testimony.An advertisement!
"How many parents are going to be willing to humiliate their children by publicizing their situation in the newspaper?" asked Mary Devoy, a volunteer advocate for data-driven reform of Virginia’s sex offender registry and laws.How is that best for the students? Legislators seriously didn't think about the child of the sex offender when they came up with this boneheaded idea?
Shelly Stow, in a comment on the article, points out the obvious.
Aside from the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever supporting the efficacy of proximity restrictions keeping registrants away from schools, etc., this is just cruel. Giving a registrant who is a parent the choice between participating in this ridiculous and humiliating charade and being a part of his child's school life is a scheme that had to have been concocted at midnight around a cauldron. Someone please do some checking as to the last time a registrant entered a school and abducted or molested a random child. And then do the same looking for instances where a child at school was victimized by a member of the faculty or staff. Please report back what your investigation yields.If only state legislators would think this clearly.
Once we have a sex offender registry, we have a list of people it is acceptable to torment. As this story shows, children of sex offenders are acceptable to torment. Anyone with a brain--or a heart!--should be able to see that no child deserves public humiliation, no matter what crime his parent committed.
Abolish the sex offender registry.