We want schools to be educational safe havens for our children. At the same time, public policies designed to make schools safer may carry unintended consequences. Legislation making teachers liable for policing “improper sexual conduct” is winding its way through the Alabama Legislature, and it shouldn’t become law without serious vetting by legislators.
Senator Clyde Chambliss (R-Autauga County) introduced SB26 responding to a constituent family’s preference that juvenile sexual offenders (JSOs) not be “mainstreamed” in Alabama’s public schools. At the beginning of this school year, the family’s son spotted the JSO who had abused his sister attending Autauga County high school.
Cambliss’s legislation kicks moderate and high-risk juvenile sex offenders out of public schools entirely. Those students would move to alternative education programs, homeschooling or virtual schools. Such changes create budgetary and logistical challenges in their own right, but also make redirecting those JSOs away from poor behavioral choices that much harder.
The bigger problem with SB26 is what happens with “low-risk” juveniles who remain in public school classrooms.