An I-Team investigation has found local colleges and universities can accept convicted sex offenders as students but their classmates are unaware of those convictions. Daniel Schrand, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification officer for the Greene County Sheriff's Office, said offenders are required to notify the local sheriff of their status as a student. The official notification, though, ends there.
"The only person they have to tell is their local sheriff's office. If I have an offender who registers with me, his address, and goes to school in another county, he has to register the school with me and also the county that the school is in."
According to Schrand, nothing in state law requires the school or the other students to be told. That lack of disclosure is a concern to some students, including Sinclair creative writing major Chris Fohl. He does understand why they would be allowed to be admitted. "That would speak a lot about Sinclair, second chances and all of that," Fohl said.
Sinclair spokesman Adam Murka said safety is the college's number one goal. For several years the school has had a specific policy on the conditions for enrollment for convicted sex offenders. "We understand we have an obligation to provide a safe learning environment and we have an obligation since we have a daycare here on campus," Murka said. Sinclair's Police Chief, John Huber, said there are restrictions on where a student with a sex-related conviction can travel on campus.
"We do not allow them to be in classrooms with minors if that's a condition of their probation and parole. They are not to have classes in building nine which is where our daycare center is," Huber said. He added that Sinclair has not had a problem with any students with a conviction.
Schrand said he voluntarily notifies Sinclair, Wright State University and other schools if an offender who registers with him lists themselves as a student at a local college. While Schrand supports direct notification for the schools, he does not want to make it impossible for them to attend college. That way, Schrand says, they can get a job and turn their lives around.
Would students mind going to class with a convicted sex offender? Sinclair student Karissa Hammond said she would be cautious but not prohibit a person with a conviction from attending school. "They do deserve a second chance but it does not mean you have to be blind to it. It doesn't mean you cannot be cautious around people."
How many students with a conviction are attending local colleges and universities? The I-Team will break down the data and explore the policies of multiple schools as coverage of sex offenders on campus continues Sunday in the Dayton Daily News.