RICHMOND Sex offenders will not be allowed on school property at any time if a new bill is passed in the General Assembly. Currently, offenders are banned only during school hours.
House Bill 567, proposed by Delegate Anne B. Crockett-Stark, R-Wytheville, would make it illegal for a convicted, violent sex offender to be on public or private elementary school, secondary school or child day-care center property at any time without prior consent from the commonwealths attorney and from the facilities administration.
The bill is being addressed in the House Courts of Justice Criminal Law subcommittee.
Caleb Cox, Crockett-Stark’s legislative assistant, said the bill is aimed at clearing up language on whether school hours include activities, such as sports, that usually take place after a normal school day.
The bill was suggested by a Wythe County assistant commonwealth attorney after noting that a violent, sex offender was attending every Pee Wee football game at one of the county schools.
Cox said the bill would act as an additional safeguard against offenders who don’t have an approved reason for being on school property.
The school belongs to the children, Cox said.
Crockett-Stark said the legislation would help protect children who participate in extracurricular activities. The bill also would protect children who still might be on school property, but are not under direct supervision of adults, she said.
Sex offenders would be allowed on school property, with permission from the commonwealth attorney, to participate in events such as education programs or church services that are held in schools, Crockett-Stark said. However, she also said the primary purpose of a school is to teach children and keep them safe.
That’s whom schools are for, Crockett-Stark said. They [children] should come first.