HANOVER, Va. --With a click of the mouse on the Virginia State Police website anyone can get information about sex offenders in their area. One Hanover mom was shocked to see an eighteen-year-old Patrick Henry student listed on the site.
Information provided by a state sex offender registry revealed the student was convicted of violent sex crimes when he was a minor. He initially registered on the site in 2010.
The Hanover mom shared concerns with other parents, who contacted CBS 6 News through Facebook saying: “This is outrageous and I think parents should be made aware.”
“There is no duty on the part of the school to call to notify anybody,” said CBS 6 Legal analyst Todd Stone. “It’s just not there in the law and it could lead to harassment, bullying, and other problems.”
CBS 6 News also spoke with the state trooper from the sex offender investigative unit who registered the teenager on the sex offender registry. She said there are strict guidelines he must follow. For instance, he can only attend Patrick Henry High and cannot visit any other school campus.
Because he is still a student, who is following the law and completed his sentence, CBS 6 will not name the teen. Stone said the bottom line is, though he committed a crime, the student is also entitled to an education.
Other parents in the area said they understand the issue from both sides.
“As a parent I would be concerned and wouldn't want my child sitting next to a sex offender and maybe being alone with him,” said Amanda Davis. “I also empathize with him and understand he has to get an education, I think it’s tough having a scarlet letter branded on him and being singled out.”
Other parents wanted to know what the school district’s policy is for notifying them of sex offenders in schools. Hanover’s policy states that every year their schools request electronic notification of registered sex offenders in the zip codes of each school.
They give annual notification of this policy to their parents. The school district also notifies parents that there is a sex offender registry on the Virginia State Police website.
We asked how many convicted sex offenders are enrolled in Virginia public schools. According to Virginia State Police, that information is not available. Only what’s listed on the website can be released to the public.
That does not include student information, as mandated by law.