Legislature OKs Tougher Rules For Sex Offender Parents On School Grounds

Press Release from Sen. Tim Barnes, D-Adams, and Rep. Phillip Johnson, R-Pegram; March 30, 2010:

Bill Bans Registered Sex Offenders From After-School Events

NASHVILLE – The state House and Senate passed Monday a bill sponsored by Sen. Tim Barnes of Adams and Rep. Phillip Johnson of Pegram that places tighter restrictions on registered sex offenders at schools.

“Registered sex offenders have no business going to after-school events, and they shouldn’t be anywhere near a school without a principal’s knowledge. I’m proud to have closed a loophole that placed our children at risk,” Barnes said.

The bill (SB2988/HB3263) bans parents and legal guardians who are registered sexual offenders from their children’s events held on school grounds, such as plays and ballgames. Those individuals will have to obtain written permission from a school principal or administrator before attending conferences, and provide written notice of their status upon their child’s enrollment in order to drop off or pick up their child. Current law allows such parents to do all of the above without written permission or notice.

The House and Senate passed the bill unanimously Monday night, meaning the legislation will soon go to Gov. Phil Bredesen for his signature.

The bill is designed to alleviate concerns after the Cheatham County School Board passed a rule restricting the hours that a parent who is a registered sex offender could be on school grounds. The board had to later rescind its actions and adopt the state policy.

“Our schools must know who is around our children at all times, and this bill gives them greater authority to do that,” Johnson said. “Our families and our children are safer as a result of this legislation.”

Violation of the proposed law would result in a fine. Monetary penalties for violations of current sex offender restrictions range from $350 to $1,100.