Voting policy change on sex offenders could come soon in Greece
Greece Central’s efforts to make school grounds safer could get some help from Albany.
A local lawmaker is hoping to bolster schools’ efforts to keep sex offenders out. Meanwhile, the Greece Board of Education will consider a policy that tightens its visitor restrictions at its Feb. 12 meeting.
The issue came up last month when some parents complained to the district after spotting a level 3 sex offender voting at Longridge Elementary school in a district election. Greece Police responded but could not ask the man to leave because he was legally allowed to be there, according to police. Some offenders have conditions attached to their sentencing or release, such as being required to not live within a certain distance from a school or park. This offender did not.
Since some voting is done at schools during school hours, the parents were concerned that offenders could come in contact with children. Assemblyman Bill Reilich, R-Greece, is proposing that level 2 and 3 sex offenders vote by absentee ballot. Offenders are assigned a level number based on a scale - with 1 being less likely to repeat and 3 being most likely to repeat.
Maret Godfrey, one of the parents who raised the issue to the district, is “thrilled” about Reilich’s proposal. She understands the criticism about chaning how sex offenders vote but said using an absentee ballot is something done by a lot of people.
“I really don’t care about the voting issue at all,” she said. “I’m just concerned in general. Registered level 2 and 3 sex offenders being on school grounds bothers me.”
Greece Central is considering a policy similar to Reilich’s. Now, visitors must sign in at the main office in the elementary schools and at the security station at the secondary schools. The new policy would require sex offenders get written permission from the school principal or superintendent before entering school property for any reason.
For voting, offenders could either vote by absentee ballot or in school, but they must call ahead and arrange a time to do so. If they show up without an appointment and try to vote, police will be called and the individual could face trespassing charges. Election inspectors would be given information on sex offenders in town, like photographs and names.
The policy needs to be aired in front of the Board of Education, which it will next month. If it goes through, it will be in place in time for the May budget and board member election vote.
That won’t be soon enough for Godfrey.
“Some people are saying, ‘Nothing has happened. Why put together this policy?’ I don’t want to wait until something happens,” she said.
Colleen M. Farrell can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 265, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.