Saturday, January 26, 2013

Help Pass Sex Offender Bus Stop Parental Alert


Dear Friends, 

The vote was delayed after the subcommittee heard opposition testimony from an organization that advocates for sex offenders, the Fairfax and Loudoun school boards, as well as the Virginia School Board Association.

Reading between the lines, it appeared the school boards would rather not deal with parents learning the facts and then subsequently asking for bus stop changes.  One committee member thought the process would be costly and another called it an unfunded mandate.  There are numerous “unfunded mandates” imposed on the school system by the state.  The VEA and School Board association characterize almost any change in policy as an "unfunded mandate."  I found on the Albemarle County website some examples they cited:
“The Standards of Quality specifies required staffing for K-12 public schools but the state only partially funds its share of the costs for these staff. Examples of SOQ-required staffing include:
·17 full-time equivalent (FTE) instructional positions for each 1,000 students identified as having limited English proficiency
·1 full-time reading specialist in each elementary school
·5 FTEs per 1,000 students in grades K-5 to serve as resource teachers in art, music and physical education
·Two FTE per 1,000 students in grades K-12 with one FTE to provide technology support and one to serve as an instructional technology resource teacher”
One opponent said it was less likely a sex offender would commit another crime than anyone in the committee room at that time.  The School Board Association lobbyist stated that they already explain to parents how to access the sex offender registry.  However, not all families have computer access.  School boards fear having to change bus stop locations, in response to parents' concerns, but what would be the harm in determining whether the current locations would violate the policy?  The reality is HB 1369 will require an internet search and a nominal cost associated with contacting parents either by paper memo or electronic means consistent with the way those parents have chosen to be contacted on other school issues.  I don't think this is too much to ask.
Contact Information:
703-361-5416 (office and fax)
703-853-4213 (cell) (preferred)
Mailing address:
P.O. Box 421
Manassas, VA 20108

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