"Sex Offenders in Our Public Schools"
Sex Offenders in Our Public Schools Jim Walsh Walsh, Anderson, Brown, Schulze & Aldridge, P.C. Sex Offender Reports to School Districts • TDCJ or TYC must notify local law enforcement seven days prior to release of a sex offender. • Local law enforcement must notify local schools eight days after receipt of this notice, under certain circumstances. • Notice goes to superintendent of the ISD and the principal of any private school within the ISD. Code of Criminal Procedure 62.053(e); 62.054; Policy GRA Just Moved Into Your District • Offenders must report to local law enforcement within seven days of moving. • Local law enforcement must notify local schools eight days after receipt of this notice, under certain circumstances. • Notice goes to the superintendent of the ISD and the principal of any private school within the ISD. Code of Criminal Procedure 62.054, 055(f). Under Certain Circumstances • Law enforcement is not required to report every sex offender to the local school. • They must report if— *the victim was a secondary school student or a person under 17 and the offender is a student; or *the offense involved ―sexual performance by a child‖ or ―possession of child pornography.‖ What does the notice contain? • Any information the law enforcement authority determines is necessary to protect the public except: – Offender’s social security number, – Offender’s driver’s license number, – Offender’s telephone number, and – Any information identifying the victim of the offense. Code of Criminal Procedure 62.053(f) Disclosure of Sex Offender Reports • The superintendent shall release the information in the notice to “appropriate school personnel” including principals, nurses and counselors. The statute does not address notice to teachers or aides. • Code of Criminal Procedure 62.053(e). • The notice should be maintained under the Public Information Act. Is there a duty to inform parents? • The statutes do not create a duty for the superintendent to broadcast the information received regarding a convicted sex offender. • It is also advisable that the superintendent generally not take the initiative to broadcast such information. What if ―private information‖ is released? • The only applicable criminal statute is the general prohibition on distribution of confidential information in the Public Information Act. The maximum fine is $1000 and/or jail time of 6 months. Tex. Gov’t Code §552.352. • There may be civil liability for release of non-public information. A Delicate Balance • If a school district shares too much information regarding sex offender information, it can be labeled as being ―alarmist‖ and as using ―scare tactics.‖ • However, if a school district doesn’t share anything then it can be accused of ―hiding information‖ and doing a ―cover-up.‖ Child Safety Zone Condition • Some offenders will be on ―community supervision.‖ • If the offender is on ―community supervision‖ due to a sexual offense involving a child, the court order must include a ―child safety zone.‖ Code of Criminal Procedure 42.12 § 13B Child Safety Zone Condition • Child safety zone is defined as: – No supervision or participation in athletic, civic, or cultural activity programs for children 17 or younger; and – No traveling within 1,000 feet of place where children commonly gather, including a school. • The condition may be waived or modified after it is imposed for several reasons, including interference with the ability of the person to attend school. Code of Criminal Procedure 42.12 § 13B Practical Advice • Initiate communication with local law enforcement agencies. • Upon receipt of a notice, release the information to appropriate school personnel. • Maintain the notice under the Public Information Act. • Develop protocols for how to handle and process notices when they concern an enrolled student. • Inquire about ―child safety zone‖ requirements. • Notify law enforcement of child safety zone violators. Sex Offender Information Website • Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Records Service http://records.txdps.state.tx.us Your Policy on Sex Offenders • See GRA Legal