By Camaron Abundes
MIDLAND- Convicted sex offenders on campus and quite possibly in your child's classroom, just the thought can make any parent wince but the numbers, less than twenty compared to thousands of students in Midland and Ector schools, are relatively low and most underage offenders are guilty of just one offense.
"These are students in school, that are sex offenders? Oh it makes me a little nervous," said Terri Williams, a mother concerned about her child's safety.
If you're wondering how it's possible; the juvenile offender is placed by a judge on defered registration, meaning they won't have to register until they turn 18. He or she will also go into at least 18 months of treatment and go through probation. In Midland, there are 8 underage offenders, all but one attends school. In Odessa, there are 11 offenders, one lives out of town another is in the Ector County Youth Center, and the other 9 go to Ector Schools. Out of the 19 here in the Basin, not one has to register until they are an adult.
"You trust the school system to check the teachers, but who is going to check the kids, I mean that leaves our kids kind of unprotected," Lisa Bender, a mother picking up her child at Midland High, said.
Lou Serrano heads up Juvenile Services at the Ector County Youth Center, he says by law his team of officers must notify top school officials if someone is a registered offender, but if the child's records are sealed, E.C.I.S.D. School security officials tell Newswest 9, they'll never know about it.
"Any of our juveniles on probation is communicated back to campus security, and then from there it goes to campus administrators, so they know all of our kids, and not all the time do they know the circumstances of why they're on probation, but any of these juveniles that are receiving a registered sex offender, that's definitely communicated to them," Serrano said.
Even if the school district knows who the registered sex offender is, unless you go online you will never hear about them because state and federal laws prevent administrators from releasing the information, but Serrano says parents shouldn't be alarmed.
"Judge Bobo would never have one of these kids out in the community that he felt was a risk to re-offend or that was out that would pose a threat to kids on campus," he said.
While it may be a tough thing for any parent to imagine, experts say treating kids now is the best way to prevent an underage offender from turning into an adult predator.
"Kids need the chance to rehabilitate and to fit out into society, I mean look at our jails! Our jails are full of people that never got the chance. I am sure if it were someone who did something over and over again, they wouldn't be in school," Casandra Richardson, a Midland parent, said.
Tune in Thursday Night at 10p.m. to see Part II of this series only on NewsWest 9.