The Cullman County School Board has approved a new board policy that will allow the superintendent and school administrators to know the names of students in the system who are low risk sex offenders.
The policy was approved during Thursday night’s meeting to bring the system in line with Annalyn’s Law, which was passed by the state in 2018 and requires local law enforcement to notify school system’s when a low risk juvenile sex offender is enrolled in one of its schools.
Learning Support Specialist Karen Pinion shared some of the details of the policy with the board, and said the county system and systems all around the state have always had low risk sex offenders enrolled in their student population.
Before the passing of Annalyn’s Law, however, local law enforcement has not been allowed to disclose the names of those students for privacy reasons, she said.
“Basically, we’re going to know who those students are, and we have never had that information before,” she said.
She said the purpose of the law is to allow those students to still get an education and an opportunity for college or a career while putting them in situations where they won’t repeat their offenses.
As part of the policy, if a student is a low risk sex offender and enrolls in a school or is already attending a school in the county, the juvenile probation office will notify the superintendent.
A supervision team will then be formed that is made up of the superintendent, the school’s principal and counselor, the student’s assigned teachers and/or coaches and bus driver if necessary.
The team will then work with the student and their family to draft a schedule and plan for the student, including any special measures such as reducing the likelihood of the offender from interacting with their victim if they attend the same school.
The supervision team will be the only staff members who know the student’s identity and status, and the student’s name will be kept confidential to students, other staff members and everyone else in the system.
Pinion said any juvenile sex offender who is allowed to attend a school has to be deemed as a low risk of reoffending.
“The moderate and high risk students will not attend our public schools. These are the students that our judges deem as low risk,” she said. “This will give those kids a chance to hopefully get their life on track and get a high school degree and hopefully go on and be employed, and protect our other students as well.”