The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.

~~~ Albert Einstein



Monday, October 15, 2007

Just one voice?

Often we find ourselves in a position where we don't agree with the way things are, but we feel powerless to do anything about it. Take for instance, a reader from here. She wrote a while back, concerned about a sex offender who was making visits to her children's school. She'd complained to the school, voiced her concerns to anyone who would listen- but yet nothing seemed to be working.

She began writing letters, much like this one:

I really hate to be writing this letter, but for the second time this year, we have run into the same register sex offender during an inside school function. The first time was this spring during our Elementary's Fun Fair. We immediately notified a police officer - who was aware of his presence, and told us he was a free man. The next day I was on the phone with the sheriff's office and e-mailed every one of our legislators.



Wednesday night at the middle school choir concert, my daughter and a few of her friends noticed a man staring at them and then recognized him as Brian Cook, Registered Sexual Predator, sitting in the audience before they went on stage. This made them extremely scared and terribly uncomfortable, which made it difficult to perform. They should NOT feel this way at a school function! They should NOT be subjected to his presence! And as parents we feel we shouldn't have to worry about these type of people having access to our children at school! We lock & secure all the doors but let him, a known sexual predator, walk right in? Please tell me something will be done.....


The responses she received were less than promising, this one came from a member of the school board:

We will continue to do all we can to protect our students and staff.
In the course of doing that, we can not violate the rights of individuals and, in this case, the rights of another parent to watch his/her child at a school event.
Tim Zigler


Now, what is most interesting here is that while the school board member seems to be all about "rights" he fails to even put into context the simple fact that Ohio law allows for school districts to block sex offenders, via trespassing laws.

The concerned mother wasn't about to give up, in fact the refusal to put kids first from the school board only fueled her fire- she set up a petition and a website: www.SafeAtSchools.com . Of course, she didn't stop there either.

I've come to know a little more about the situation through conversations with the mother in this case, and so I feel compelled (and very proud) to let everyone know that yeah, just one voice can make a difference- you just have to be willing to use it.

She has been, and here's the update to her story:

The Ohio Attorney General's Office said individual district boards of education already have some of the requested power through rule-making authority on trespassing and requiring all visitors to report to the school office upon entering the school premises.

However, the attorney general is willing to go further, working with advocates such as Priddy and Cox to convince the legislature to add the ban to state law, said Leo Jennings, communications director for Attorney General Marc Dann.