Sexual Offender and Predator Information
In order to ensure the safety of our children, all Board employees must remain vigilant for any persons that might cause harm to students or staff. Of particular concern are those persons who have been identified by the State of Florida as sexual offenders or sexual predators. The definitions have been summarized below, however the full text of the statute should be reviewed by referring to the final pages of this section to ensure that you have a full understanding of the statute.
Preferred search site if Badge Pass is unavailable http://www.nsopw.gov/en-US
I. Sexual Offender
A sexual offender as defined by Florida statues is a person who has been convicted of: kidnapping or false imprisonment (where the victim is a child); luring or enticing a child; sexual battery; procuring a person under 16 for prostitution; a lewd or lascivious offense upon or in the presence of a child under 16 years of age; a lewd or lascivious offense upon or in the presence of an elderly or disabled person; sexual performance by a child; showing, transmitting, or distributing obscene material to a child; using a computer for the purpose of storing, transmitting, etc. child pornography; or the selling or buying of a minor.
II. Sexual Predator
The Florida Legislature, in F.S. 775.210(3) states that “Repeat sexual offenders, sexual offenders who use physical violence, and sexual offenders who prey on children are sexual predators who present an extreme threat to the public safety. Sexual offenders are extremely likely to use physical violence and to repeat their offenses, and most sexual offenders commit many offenses, have many more victims than are ever reported, and are prosecuted for only a fraction of their crimes. This makes the cost of sexual offender victimization to society at large, while incalculable, clearly exorbitant.”
A sexual predator is one who, upon conviction of certain crimes (e.g. sexual battery, some kidnapping and false imprisonments of children) has been designated by the court as a sexual predator; or, has repeat convictions for the sexual offenses enumerated above.
Basically, you become a sexual predator after an order by the court, when you have been convicted of certain specified offenses, or you have multiple convictions for sexual offenses. Clearly, sexual predators are the more dangerous of the two classifications.
III. Identifying Sexual Offenders/Predators.
The State of Florida has taken a strong and aggressive approach to sexual offenders and predators. Although only statutorily required to notify the public about sexual predators, the State also posts information about sexual offenders.
In order to determine if there are sexual offenders or predators near your school, a bus stop, or in the vicinity of some school based activity, you can search a web site offered by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). The procedure is as follows:
1. Access the website: http://www.fdle.state.fl.us
2. Click on the section on the right hand side that says “Sexual Offender Database.”
3. At the top on the left, click on the box that says “Offender Search.”
4. Click on either the “Guided Search” or the Neighborhood Search and search as necessary. Note that the that the preponderance of individuals are "offenders” and not “predators.”
Clicking on the “view flyer” tab left will give you a picture and additional information on the subject.
If the subject is listed as being “under supervision” that means that they have a probation officer from the Department of Corrections. If you want to speak with a probation officer or learn more, you can click on the link provided in the flyer or go to http://www.dc.state.fl.us and on the left hand side click on offender search. (Usually using their DC# is the most accurate search parameter.) The probation officer can provide you with the conditions of probation for the subject (e.g. staying 1000 feet from a school, no contact with children, etc.).
IV. Alternate Web Site for Offender/Predator Identification
An alternate web site is available from Pinellas County which streamlines the identification and mapping process.
1. Clink on “map offenders” on the left
2. Scroll down, and click on “I agree” at the bottom of the page
3. In the tool bar located near the middle of the page is a section that provides a scroll down box that reads “address” click on it and highlight “Public Schools” then click on the “Search” button to the right
4. When a new box opens on the right, there is a scroll down box for grade level. Select the grade level for your school, then your school, then “locate.”
5. After your school shows up click “select” next to “distance from location.”
6. Select “2 miles” (Note that this web site does not discriminate between sexual offenders and sexual predators in the selection box. However, the map will show predators in red and offenders in orange.
7. Either clicking on the symbol on the map, or clicking on the text listing on the right will link you to the subject’s flyer. Move your cursor into the picture, right click and select print.
V. Restrictions on Sexual Offenders/Predators
If the FDLE web page indicates that the subject’s status has been listed as “released,” this means that s/he is no longer under Florida Department of Corrections confinement, supervision, or any other court imposed sanction. There are NO restraints on where this person can go or live. They can legally be near your school and in fact they can (unless they have been given a trespass warning for some other incident) come on your campus to attend activities opened to the public like student performances, “PTA/SAC meetings” or any “open house” type of activity.
As always, we can prohibit persons from coming on our campus when they have previously been disruptive or have threatened persons lawfully on campus. We cannot however treat a sexual offender who is in “release” status any differently than any other member of the public. However, it is incumbent upon you to familiarize yourself with the sexual offenders in the vicinity of your school so that if they do come near or onto your school property you closely monitor their activities. Sexual predators may be on “release’ status however, in most cases they are still prohibited from being on or near a school.
Sexual predators and some sexual offenders must register with the FDLE or the Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
VI. Individual School Responsibility
Although local law enforcement agencies routinely provide you with information about sexual offenders and predators, ensuring the safety of your children requires that additional redundancy be built into our process.
Upon receiving notification from law enforcement, one option is to make a “Connect-Ed” announcement to all parents and staff regarding the new information. An example would be:
Parents, this is Ms. Smith the principal of Central Elementary School. I recently received information from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office that a sexual offender (or predator) has moved into the area of our school. The individual’s name is “------------.” For more information you should go to the website for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement at www.fdle.fl.us. Or if you visit the school we will have the information stored in sexual offender notebook. Please take this opportunity to review personal safety lessons with your children.
Another option would involve the development of an informational flyer and letter which would be sent home with each student. In addition, the principal or designee should develop an information book on all sexual predators and offenders within a 1 or 2 mile radius of the school. The information should be designed to be maintained in a 3-ring binder which is kept in an area that is readily accessible to staff members (e.g. faculty lounge). The information book should include the following items:
1) A map of the area centered on your school with a 1 mile radius of all offenders and predators. (See “alternative web site in IV above.)
2) When your search results display, click on the “view flyer” and then print the flyer of each subject within the 2 mile radius and place them, sorted alphabetically, into the binder.
3) If the subject is not on “released status” then obtain the conditions of probation from his/her probation officer
4) During the first week of the month (excluding June and July) a check will be conducted to ascertain if there are any updates to be made for the list of subject within the 2 mile radius. If there are new entries, print the flyer and notify school staff and announce that an new entry (by the name of “John Smith”) has been made and entered in to the binder.
VII. Guidelines for Dealing with Offenders/Predators
One of the big challenges facing you is what do you do when a parent or staff member approaches you and informs you that there is a sexual offender or predator living near the school or a one of your bus stops. Keep in mind that parents often fail to recognize the difference between a “predator” and an “offender.” Here are the steps to take:
1) Go to the FDLE web site (listed above) and search for the subject.
2) Determine if the subject is a sexual offender or a predator.
3) Determine if the subject is under supervision, or has s/he been “released?” (Keep in mind that if they have been released there are NO legal restrictions upon them regarding where they may or may not go.)
4) If they are under supervision, go to the Department of Corrections web site and find out who their local probation officer is. Contact the probation officer and ask them for list of the conditions of probation for the individual.
5) Develop an information packet for use by staff, and if requested by parents. The packet should contain a picture of the subject and their address and important probation information (Use your judgment on what should be captured as these conditions can range from “maintain employment,” or “do not use illegal drugs” to “no contact with children.” Obviously, the first two may be omitted from your listing
6) If parents want to know what you have done or are doing about sexual offenders/predators in the neighborhood, you may share this information with them. Note however, that it is incumbent upon you to have someone assigned to this responsibility and ensure that the information is accurate and current.
VIII. Frequently Asked Questions
Q. I just learned that we have a sexual offender (or predator) that has moved into the area of my school, what can I do to notify my parents?
A. The information from the FDLE web site is a matter of public record. You can print the flyer for distribution or reproduce any of the information to give to parents. When you communicate this information with parents, you should indicate what steps you have taken to protect their children. For example, “We have notified all of our staff members and provided them with a picture of the individual. Although the subject is no longer under supervision by the Department of Correction, we will monitor him should be come near our school.”
Q. I just learned that one of my parents is a sexual offender. Can I prevent him from coming on campus?
A. If the subject’s conditions of probation prohibit him from coming on campus, or being in close proximity to children then yes. If however the subject has been “released” (is no longer under supervision) then they have the right to come on campus just as any parent would (e.g. conferences, to pick up their child, etc.). Since we must legally treat this individual just like we would any other parent and allow them to come on campus, he or she must be closely monitored by staff whenever they do come on campus. This would require that all staff members be familiar with the subject. We must however be sensitive to the emotional well being of the child. We do no want to punish the child for an act likely committed years before by their parent.
The individual should never be allowed to be in any situation where there is unsupervised contact with children.
Q. What should I do when I have learned that a sexual offender lives very close to one of my bus stops?
A. Is it unlikely that the subject is violating any laws. Notify the transportation department via E-mail. Do not assure parents that the bus stop will be moved.
Q. What should I do when I have learned that a sexual predator lives very close to one of my bus stops?
A. There is one statue that deals with sexual predators and their proximity to school bus stops. The statue is very narrow and applies only to those who are on conditional release from prison. Nevertheless, forward the information on to the transportation department, and of course alert the parents of the students who catch the bus at that location. Do not assure parents that the bus stop will be moved.
Q. I have learned that one of my teachers is married to someone listed as a sexual offender. What can I do?
A. Assuming this spouse does not have any children at the school, you can prohibit the spouse from coming on campus, unless it is an event open to the general public (e.g. a band concert).