Attorneys with the Iowa Association of School Boards are issuing advice to schools about complying with a new law that goes into effect tomorrow. Anyone on the sex offender registry must have written permission to be on school grounds, or they can be charged with loitering.
Mary Gannon of the Iowa Association of School Boards is telling schools to issue those kinds of permission slips sparingly.
“Some of the examples that we’ve had are dad wants to come to their daughter’s graduation or, you know, come to watch their son play football and some of the things we’ve talked about is your ability to control the environment where that sex offender is going to be,” Gannon says.
Gannon notes it’s up to the offenders to comply with the law, as schools — for example — may not know if someone who delivers milk or bread to the school is on the sex offender registry.
“People are on the sex offender registry for a reason: they’ve committed a crime somewhere and they’ve committed a pretty serious crime and we’re kind of expecting them to be on their good behavior, so I’m a little concerned about that,” she says. “The other part of that is employers don’t know they have employees on the registry.”
Gannon is advising schools to spell out in their contracts with vendors that no one on the sex offender registry is allowed to make deliveries to the school.
The new restriction forbids convicted sex offenders from loitering at schools, daycares, parks, video arcades and other areas where children gather. Law enforcement officials say it should be more effective than the old law which restricted where sex offenders can live.
In addition to the restriction on loitering, the new law bans anyone on the registry from working as an employee or volunteer at a place where children congregate. Ganon says schools already do background checks on employees — and even on some volunteers.