Precinct 333

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Sex-Offenders In The Classroom

And no, I'm not talking about the teachers. I'm talking about the students.

Police across the state often fail to inform schools officials about young sex offenders in their classrooms because of confusion about Illinois law - confusion that could put students at risk, according to a published report.

An Illinois registry with the names of about 1,100 juvenile sex offenders is largely kept secret, unlike lists of adult offenders that are readily accessible via the Internet, the Chicago Tribune reported in its Sunday editions.

A law adopted in the 1990s requires sheriff's police to inform schools when a juvenile sex offender enrolls. However, with some police interpreting the law differently, that doesn't always happen.

Even when school principals ask some police departments for the names of juvenile offenders who might be attending their schools, the information is not given.

Fortunately we don't face that problem down here in Texas. Juvenile sex-offenders end up on the statewide list that you can access from the Internet. Sadly, I've found former students there. And when a student is charged with such an offense (as with violent felonies), the kid is immediately removed from the classroom pending adjudication and placed in a highly-structured alternative setting where they are under constant supervision.

Sounds like the Illinois situation is absolutely out of control. Take this case.

One East Peoria woman, who was not identified by the Tribune, saw first hand how the notification law on juveniles does not seem to be working as intended. She learned that a boy who was found guilty of molesting her 7-year-old son ended up in a class with her older teenage son.

The 16-year-old was registered as a sex offender. Because of the disarray surrounding the notification rules, however, that information never got to the school.

East Peoria Community High School officials said later that they were thankful the student's mother brought the matter to their attention. They say they are now more vigilant.

Scary, isn't it, that we now have to watch the kids, not just the adults, for convicted sex-offenders.


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