MP School Board amends sex offender policy, approves second reading

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News


There was still plenty of debate surrounding the district?s policy regarding registered sex offenders Monday night.

Last month, the district approved a first reading of a policy that would allow district administrators to decide on a case-by-case basis if a registered sex offender would be permitted on school grounds, under supervision, in order to attend a child?s school function.

The original policy had specified the sex offender as anyone required to ?register as a sex offender under Iowa law who had been convicted of a sex offense involving a minor?. The board members requested removing the ?involving a minor? as they didn?t want to limit the policy. The district?s attorney reviewed the amended policy and stated the language must stay as it follows State code and ?you can?t go above the language of the State code.?

Superintendent John Henriksen said the school board could adjust the language and still approve the second reading of the policy. Board members Chuck Andrew and Jennifer Crull, however, were still not on board with the policy.

?Chuck and I were on the page of we?re willing to make the concession of getting permission to attend graduation, but neither one of us felt comfortable with allowing (a sex offender) to gain permission to come in for any other event,? Crull said. ?We feel technology is (advanced enough) for them to see their children?s games and concerts and stuff like that.?

Andrew said he and Crull felt graduation was a significant event that a parent should have the opportunity to be there in person.

Andrew added that if the policy was left as is ? a case-by-case basis for any of the child?s activities - then depending on how active the student is, the sex offender could have an extraordinary amount of requests. That would potentially have a sex offender on campus more often if their request was approved. It would also use time and resources going through each request.

Henriksen said the second reading of the policy could be approved and a regulation behind the policy could be written specifying graduation would be the only ?life event? the sex offender could request to attend.

The motion to approve the second reading of the policy, adding ?involving a minor? back into the text and omitting ?school administrator?, allowing only the superintendent to approve requests, was approved on a 4-3 vote. School board members Andrew, Crull and Karl Braun voted ?no?, stating they would prefer to rewrite the policy to include graduation as the only life event within the policy?s text.

Henriksen said he would get together with Andrew, Crull and Braun in order to write the regulation that would do just that.

Until the regulation is written and approved, Henriksen has authority to deny any request from a sex offender to attend a child?s school function.