SACRAMENTO – On the first day of the 2017-2018 legislative session, Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) today introduced important legislation to protect school children from dangerous sex offenders. Specifically, SB 26 would prohibit registered sex offenders from entering school campuses in California.
Under current law, school administrators are allowed to grant registered sex offenders access to a school campus as long as the parents and staff receive a two week notice. Registered sex offenders may also 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. SB 26 eliminates the ability of school administrators to grant permission for sex offenders to enter school campuses.
“The purpose of SB 26 is clear: To keep registered sex offenders away from classrooms, playgrounds and other locations on school campuses where our children go to learn, play and grow up in a safe environment,” Senator Leyva said. “SB 26 will help to clear up ambiguity in the law so that parents, teachers, administrators and local communities know that we will always stand on the side of protecting kids. It is vital that we tighten existing loopholes through which registered sex offenders could gain access to schools in California. Though it is important that we have strong volunteer programs at our schools, it is even more critical that we prevent potentially dangerous situations that could threaten the safety of vulnerable school children. I am proud to stand with concerned parents and community leaders in Fontana and across California to ensure that registered sex offenders do not roam school classrooms, halls and playgrounds.”
Since 1947, sex offenders have been required to register with local law enforcement. Legislation passed in 2004 requires the California Department of Justice to make specified information about certain sex offenders available to the public online and to update that information on an ongoing basis. In 2006, voters passed Proposition 83 to prohibit a person who is required to register as a sex offender from living in specified places, including within 2,000 feet of a school or park where children regularly gather.
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 students at Fontana Unified School District 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 approved this ban with a 5-0 vote, the district was sued for its policy. This claim has yet to be resolved and, in order to proactively clarify future concerns, Senator Leyva’s bill seeks to ensure statewide uniformity on this important children school safety bill.
Assemblymember Eloise Reyes (D-San Bernardino) has signed on as principal coauthor and Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose) is a coauthor of SB 26.
As SB 26 was introduced today, the Senate Rules Committee will soon assign the bill to the appropriate Senate policy committee(s) for consideration.