Cassia County school board votes to align sex offender policy with other districts

The Cassia County Joint School District Board of Trustees have voted to revert back to the amended policy in 2022 when it comes to sex offenders.
Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 7:48 AM MDT
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BURLEY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — One word to describe the past week in the Cassia County School District, contentious. On Monday night, the board of trustees held a special board meeting to discuss a very heated topic.

Policy 1006 addresses sex offenders on school property or at school activities in the district, which has been in effect since 2008. The policy has been amended over the years multiple times, most recently being this summer.

The board created a committee made up of community members from around the district in an effort to create more transparency.

When three sex offenders in Cassia County submitted their applications prior to making their first visit on school grounds, as required by state law, the board granted their requests, much to the dismay of the committee.

Legal advisor to the board Lance Loveland felt a blanket “no” could subject the district to litigation down the road.

Board Trustee Mandy Baker asked Loveland if there could be blanket restrictions, such as the offender always having a chaperone on school grounds, Loveland answered that there probably could be.

But when it comes to Section 18-8329 of Idaho Code, Loveland says the language could be clearer.

“This section says, shall not apply, when the person contacts the school,” Loveland exclaimed. “It says shall not apply, meaning it doesn’t apply. The prohibition to be upon school grounds does not apply. That’s the difficulty I have as the attorney. That’s why I am saying the end of the day, I think it needs to be changed legislatively, not not by educators.”

Board Trustee Kent Kidd found in his research that in other school districts, the sex offender or their attorney contacts the superintendent who then reaches out to the building principal and they consider the matter on a case-by-case basis.

Vice-chair Darin Moon discussed the delicate balance of satisfying the constituents, but following the statute.

“I’m not too proud to admit what we tried to do was maybe a step too far, what we tried to do in being transparent in letting the public know what was going on was asking too much, I would like to suggest either now or whenever we can that we reinstate the old policy which is in line with every other school district in the state and we would revisit the applications through that process,” Moon said.

Vice-Chair Moon then issued a motion to amend Policy 1006 to what it was on April 21, 2022.

Board Trustee Baker seconded the motion and it passed.

The revocation of the old policy and implementation of the new policy will occur at the next regularly scheduled board meeting slated for September 18.