Sex Offenders Allowed Near Schools

February 6, 2013 Updated Feb 6, 2013 at 8:41 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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February 6, 2013 Updated Feb 6, 2013 at 8:41 PM EDT

Albion, NY (WKBW) - The Albion Central School District is on the defense, after parents found out a sex-offender -- who is the father of a student -- was allowed to meet up with his child on a class field trip.

Parents are upset, but the school district says by New York State law, its hands were tied.

What should have been a fun-filled field trip has turned into a center of controversy.

The school district invited parents to meet up with children -- however, that included a father who is also a registered sex offender.

Tammy Burton, who has young children in the school district, says "It worries me! It worries me to go on any field trip with my child not knowing the parents background. It could be anyone."

Parents now worried, how could a man who served time for trying to rape a minor get so close to students?

Albion's Superintendent, Michael Bonnewell, says that "the individual was under the supervision of school personnel while at those functions. The individual was not assigned to supervise children. He participated in a function of all parents of the class."

Bonnewell adds, "Whatever our beliefs about those who may be subject to the registry, we must recognize and obey the law."

Officials with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services say sex offenders on parole or probation are not allowed on school property, unless they have a connection to the school and written permission.

However, after parole or probation is complete, no state laws restrict a sex offender from being at or near a school.

In addition, in the last year, state courts overturned many local laws restricting where sex offenders could live or spend free time.

Steven Quintern, who has a young son, says "There's a lot going on in the world with people's rights -- and I think a lot of it's we defend the criminals more than the good people."

Communities like Albion are left with fewer laws on the books to protect children.

Experts say often, it is up to school districts to warn parents.

The Albion School District says it is proactive, even posting sex offenders that live within the school district on its website, along with a link to Megan's Law.

However parents say they wish they had a heads-up, that one of those people on the list, was among them.

Charlie Hunt says, "The fact that she might have been with someone like that -- it's nerve wracking. Something has to be changed. If the law can't do something about it, then it's time to do something about the law."