Thursday, December 13, 2012

VA - Proposed sex offender legislation would affect school bus routes

Original Article


By Sally Voth

School boards would have to alert parents of children whose bus routes had stops near sex offenders' homes and take other measures under a bill proposed by Del. Robert Marshall, R-Prince William County.

HB 1369 (PDF) would require local school boards to put in place policies that would minimize the number of bus stops that were 500 feet or less from the home of a registered sex offender.

Additionally, Marshall said in a Tuesday phone interview, parents of children whose bus routes included such stops would get a notification.

"Notifying them, it may encourage [school districts] to put bus stops elsewhere," he sad.

Marshall said he was motivated to introduce the bill after hearing of bus stops near sex offenders in Fairfax County, a jurisdiction he doesn't cover.

"I just think we need to do this so the parents are alerted to the circumstances and they can take whatever precautions they think prudent to take," he said. "I know it would be hard [to pass legislation if] I made it a criminal offense to live near a bus stop. This is the simplest way to get some level of protection for students and alerting the parents. I think this is something for public safety that parents would be interested in if they knew this was going on."

Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, said he would support such legislation.

"I think anything we can do to minimize the risk of our children being preyed upon by known sex offenders is a great thing," he said Tuesday afternoon. "We have a hard enough time protecting our children from the unknown, but when you have known sex offenders living in an area, we should be able to take advantage of that information in order to help protect our kids."
- The fact is, most children are not assaulted by known sex offenders, but unknown sex offenders, family or close friends, so this is another piece of legislation that makes them look good, but does nothing to protect anybody or prevent crime.

Warren County School Board Chairman Roy Boyles wasn't yet aware of the legislation, but said anything that protects children was a positive.

"If that's deemed appropriate and approved by the legislature and it's mandated that we end up having to look into that to ensure children's safety, I'm sure that we will do our best to be able to do that."

Frederick County School Board Chairman Stuart Wolk also hadn't yet reviewed the proposed bill.

"We take students' safety very seriously," he said. "Our bus drivers have specific training on what to watch for and such."

That safety would have to be balanced with the logistics of a system that has about 700 bus stops, according to Wolk.


Loneranger said...

Well if they think they can figure a bus rout that will work they should if it makes them feel better. I remember catching the bus when i was in school. the days it was so cold out that we would kind of bounce around trying to stay in motion to stay warm till the bus got there and then how good it felt when we were finally picked up. the days it would be poring rain and so on. the walk was not so bad as it was just a couple of blocks and for most not even that. the thing is if you have more then one sex offender living on a rout you could end up making kids walk much farther on these days to catch the bus. I can see not wanting to stop right in front of a sex offenders house. but 500 feet from each could have the kids walking most of the way to school. Before they get to carried away with the better safe then sorry idea. they had better figure out what this would look like in the real world and just how far they think they need to have the children walk to catch the bus. Another thing is the kids will be walking close to the offenders home anyway at some point and probably do everyday anyway.Also does the offender have children that take the bus? You know they have families don't you? Another blanket approach? Why not find the ones that are designated as predator sex offenders and try and figure a rout around them. I'm sure there are much fewer to really worry about then they think if they would take a logical approach rather then one driven by emotions alone.

deathklok said...

I propose they build the buses like armored transport vehicles, but with an extra gunner on the roof of it. Instead of having designated pickup locations, have armed escorts walk the children from their front door onto the ATV. As an extra precautionary measure equip the children with a chastity belt (and bra?) before allowing them to leave the house. After all...

"I think anything we can do to minimize the risk of our children being preyed upon by known sex offenders is a great thing,"

Damian said...

While I believe the law itself is a complete waste of time (and funding), I DO like the fact that for ONCE, they are putting the onus on the school board and NOT on the ex-offender, as it SHOULD be!