Bill Protecting Schoolchildren from Sex Offenders Passes Education Committee

“Keep Kids Safe at School Act” Responds to Parent, Community Concerns

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Earlier today, the Senate Education Committee approved an important bill authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that seeks to protect school children from dangerous sex offenders.  Passed with strong bipartisan support, Senate Bill 26 would prohibit any registered sex offender from volunteering at K-12 schools and further restrict their access to school campuses in California.

Beyond prohibiting registered sex offenders from volunteering on a school campus, SB 26 also specifies that registered sex offenders—who are not parents or guardians—may enter a school site for work purposes only when no children are present.  The bill would allow registered sex offenders who are parents or guardians to enter their child’s school campus, under supervision, for purposes directly related to their right to make educational decisions for their child, such as parents meeting with their child’s teacher.  Those parents or guardians may also attend after school events, under supervision, unless they have been convicted of a violent and / or serious felony, such as rape, continuous sexual abuse of a child, lewd and lascivious acts, and other serious crimes.

“SB 26 will close loopholes in state law that allow registered sex offenders to be left alone with children on school campuses and also allow them to volunteer on school grounds in direct contact with kids,” Senator Leyva said.  “Parents deserve to know that their children will be kept safe and away from harm while at school.  SB 26 will ensure that registered sex offenders are not able to volunteer on school campuses and will always be supervised on the few legally required times when they are at their child’s school conducting legitimate school business.  I thank my colleagues on the Senate Education Committee for supporting this important bill and look forward to SB 26 moving through the legislative process and on to the Governor’s Desk in the months ahead.”

Current law allows a school administrator to grant a registered sex offender access to a school campus as long as the parents and staff receive a two week notice. Registered sex offenders are also presently allowed to volunteer at schools as long as they are not acting in a supervisory role or in constant interaction with children as part of their volunteering.

Concerns over registered sex offenders coming onto school campuses to prey on children continue to surface in communities across California. Within Senator Leyva’s district, parents of Fontana Unified School District students successfully advocated in September 2016 to have the school board ban registered sex offenders from district schools.  After the school board listened to the outpouring of parental concerns and unanimously approved this ban, the district was sued for its policy. This claim has yet to be resolved and, in order to proactively address future concerns, Senator Leyva’s bill seeks to develop statewide uniformity on this important child safety issue.

Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino) has signed on as principal coauthor and Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose) as a coauthor of SB 26.

Supported by the Peace Officers Research Association of California, Fontana Unified School District, Communities United for Safety and the California Protective Parents Association, SB 26 next proceeds to the Senate Public Safety Committee for consideration.