Should sex offenders vote on school grounds in Greece?
Residents will line up at Greece Central schools to cast their ballots on the budget and vote in three Board of Education members next month.
Some are hoping, though, that one segment of the district populace won’t join in.
The Greece Board of Education has proposed a policy that would require a convicted sex offender to get permission to enter school grounds for any reason and to vote in school elections by absentee ballot or by appointment.
Meanwhile, Assemblyman Bill Reilich, R-Greece, has proposed that sex offenders at levels 2 and 3 be allowed to vote in school elections by absentee ballot only. Offenders are assigned a level number based on a scale, ranging from 1 to 3, with 1 designating the offender as low-risk to repeat and 3 as high-risk.
Reilich’s bill has not been voted on yet. The Greece school board hasn’t adopted the policy, either, which would be required for the rule to go into effect.
But school board President Roger Boily says it will be addressed before the May 20 vote.
“We will have a policy in place districtwide,” he said.
Under Greece’s policy, sex offenders of all levels would have to get written permission from the school principal or superintendent before entering school property for any reason. To vote, offenders would either vote by absentee ballot or in school by appointment. If they show up without calling ahead, school officials would call the police and could press trespassing charges. Election inspectors would be given information on sex offenders in town, including photographs and names.
The district has put the policy on hold, though, as it’s been waiting to see if Reilich’s would be put in place first, said district spokesperson Laurel Heiden. The policy won’t be in place by May 20 but the district is taking safeguards, she said. For example, school staff and election workers will get a list of sexual offenders who are expected to vote at their particular school so they’re aware of them. The offenders will be allowed to vote there.
The issue came up in January when some parents spotted a Level 3 sex offender voting at Longridge Elementary. Greece Police responded but could not ask the man to leave because they said he had a legal right to be there.
Some offenders have conditions attached to their release. For example, some may not live within a certain distance from a school or park. This offender had no such restrictions.
Since some voting is done at schools during school hours, parents like Maret Godfrey told the Board of Education in January that they are concerned that offenders could come in contact with children.
Reilich said developing the state budget has taken precedence over new legislation, adding that his bill has received a lot of support on both sides of the aisle.
“I’m optimistic. But realistically we’re going to see what we can do this year and we’re going to hope it passes,” he said. If it doesn’t, he added, an attempt would be made next year.
Colleen M. Farrell can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 265, or at email@example.com.