Sen. Witkos Praises Final Passage of Bill to Notify Schools of Released Sex Offenders

June 4, 2009

His bill was the final bill passed by the House of Representatives at 11:59 pm

State Senator Kevin Witkos, R-Canton, today praised final passage of legislation that would require the state Department of Public Safety (DPS) to notify local superintendents of schools with information relating to the release of a convicted sex offender who will reside, or intends to reside, in a community where their school is located. Sen. Witkos, who was the main sponsor of the bill, said the measure is important for school administrators in their efforts to ensure the safety in and around school grounds. SB 533, An Act Concerning Notification of the Release of a Registered Sexual Offender into the Community unanimously passed the House of Representatives at 11:59 pm last night, just one minute before the close of the 2009 Regular Session. Last week, the bill passed the Senate by a 35-0 vote.

“It was a close call but we were able to get it through in a nick of time,” said Sen. Witkos. “I am very pleased and grateful to the members of the House for making sure the bill was taken up before midnight.”

Under current law, police are mandated to notify the superintendent of schools when an individual between the ages of 17 and 21 commits a Class A misdemeanor or felony. The verbal notification must be made no later than the end of the next school day and written notification within 72 hours. According to Sen. Witkos, while school notification is required in this instance even though such individual has not been tried or convicted in a court of law, the same is not required for those convicted of a sex assault crime. This bill will change that.

“This is a straightforward concept. Any parent will tell you that the school their child attends should be notified if a released sex offender is residing in close proximity to school grounds. This is common sense and I am pleased this measure will soon become law,” said Sen. Witkos. “We should be doing everything we can to maintain a higher degree of security in and around school grounds.”

The bill now goes to Gov. M. Jodi Rell where she is expected to sign it into law.