Annalyn's Law makes DCS consider low-risk sex offender policy

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - The Dothan City School board is talking about how to monitor low-risk juvenile sexual offenders.

The board is considering a policy on how they would manage integrating those students into the district.

It actually started back in March of 2018 when the state legislature passed Annalyn's Law.

The law requires local law enforcement to inform the superintendent of any low-risk sex offenders that live within the district.

It also requires the schools to have a plan in place for monitoring low risk sex offenders, which is what Dothan City Schools is tackling now.

The Dothan City School board decided to table three policy votes on the agenda at their meeting Monday night.

They are required to seek public input on those policies for 30 days before making a decision.

One of those - a supervision plan for low-risk juvenile sex offenders.

"The courts have an obligation and the law enforcement agencies have an obligation to notify the school system,” said Dothan City Schools Chief Operating Officer Dennis Coe. “The school system then has to develop a supervisory plan for that child to be entered back in to the regular school setting."

Annalyn's Law gave courts three levels to assign to juvenile sex offenders, low, moderate and high risk.

Moderate and high risk offenders will legally have to be sent to "alternative educational placement."

The low risk however can be confidentially integrated into the system.

"It may be assigning somebody to watch them during break time,” said Coe. “It's all done inconspicuously. You don't want to label a child like that and condemn them for life for a dumb mistake they may have made as a child."

The confidentiality is meant to protect not only the offender, but the victim as well.

Only a small group of administrators, teachers and potentially bus drivers would know of the situation so the student could be monitored at a distance.

"It's a very slippery slope,” said Dothan Police Lieutenant Doug Magill. “The more people you add in, the more people you run the risk of getting names tarnished that don't necessarily have to be. In concept, it's a fabulous idea. We'll just have to wait and see."

It's worth noting that "low risk" doesn't necessarily identify the severity of the offense, but just the likelihood of the student offending again.

The board is looking for public input on this issue.

You can contact Dothan City Schools or voice your opinion at the November 14th work session.

That's at 2:00 p.m. at Beverlye Intermediate.

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