Board eyes sex offender policy

RANCHO SANTA FE — The Rancho Santa Fe School Board instructed Richard Currier, its general counsel, to draft a board policy regarding allowing convicted sex offenders on campus. They said they wanted it to be “realistic,” “simple” and “practical.”
“We want to be proactive not reactive,” board member Carlie Headapohl said.
The board wanted it included in the policy that at least once a year a school official contact the probation and parole departments to ask if there is anyone of which the school should be especially aware. For those registered sex offenders of which the board is already aware, they should determine if he or she is in compliance with the conditions of their probation.
“We need to do our part to ask the question,” said Scott Cheatham, board president. “At least we would be aware. I don’t think that would be a bad thing.”
Currier said he had already done some research on how other school districts handle the issue and that he was not very impressed by most of them. He said he intends to draft a policy with more teeth.
Still, he said one of the most effective things the district can do is stay in touch with the probation department to determine if the offender is in compliance with probation conditions.
The request for such a policy stems from a female registered sex offender who has four children in the district. Some parents, including Dr. Jonathon and Ashley Haynes, became concerned about seeing her on campus several times unsupervised. One of the school functions was a back-to-school night.
The woman, a former teacher from the Denver area, was accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student. She was convicted of sexual assault on a child by someone in a position of trust. She moved to the district in 2007 and remains on probation.
At the time and several times since, Superintendent Lindy Delaney contacted the probation department attempting to learn the conditions of the woman’s probation, but was denied other than to be told at first she could be allowed on campus. After parents called and told the probation department of their concerns, she is no longer allowed on campus at all.
Board member Jim Cimino said the very least the policy would do is make everyone more aware of the comings and goings on campus. He used the analogy of a youngster in a hot Camero and driving too fast in a school zone cross walk.
“Policy or no policy,” parents would take down the license number and report it.
Everyone involved agreed that when the new school opens in the fall, a lot of the problems will be solved. Because of the layout of the school, it is more difficult for just anyone to walk onto campus unsupervised.
Also the configuration of security cameras will note license plate numbers, coming and going and will also include cameras for the playing fields and playgrounds.
In other school news, donor opportunities for the new school were discussed. A brick with the donor’s name on it could be used in a specified area of the school.
Also, the school board accepted a $120,000 gift from the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation for help in turning the multipurpose room at the new R. Roger Rowe elementary school into a performing arts center for the community.
It also accepted a gift of $20,000 gift from the Scripps Foundation for Science and the Environment.

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