Act aids safety in schools

Sunday, September 26, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:31 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Statutory rape and statutory sodomy have been added to the list of convictions that are aimed at protecting Missouri students.

The “Pupils and Special Services” statute of the Safe Schools Act was revised over the summer to add the two offenses on its list of convictions.

The statute allows school boards to suspend pupils convicted of murder, first-degree assault, forcible rape, forcible sodomy, first-degree robbery, drugs distribution to a minor, arson and “A” felony kidnapping.

Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Services Lynn Barnett has been involved with the Safe Schools Act for eight years and said she doesn’t think it will have any effect on the Columbia School District.

The violent nature of the offenses often prevents convicted juveniles from enrolling in the Columbia public schools.

“Those children are typically involved in detainment of some kind,” Barnett said. The act requires schools to provide education services to children convicted of these felony offenses in a different setting. This condition does not mean that such students will automatically be enrolled in alternative schools like Columbia’s Douglass High School, which provides its students with work-study experience.

“Children that are in alternative schools, they’re no different than any other child,” Barnett said.

If the school was faced with enrolling a pupil who has been convicted of a felony, she said, arrangements would be made to provide an education for the child, while protecting other students.

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