Registered sex offenders in Ohio are not allowed to reside within 1,000 feet of a school, but they are allowed to enter schools to vote, causing concerns for some elementary school parents in Brook Park.
Several states place restrictions on sex offenders when it comes to voting. For example, Illinois requires sex offenders to vote absentee. An Indiana law prohibits “serious sex offenders” from entering school property to vote.
But currently Ohio does not have restrictions on voting options for sex offenders.
With Ohio’s primary around the corner, Brookview Elementary parents like Holly Hollingsworth, told newsnet5.com that she’s concerned about the crowd of people coming in and out of the building while school is in session.
newsnet5.com found 20 registered sex offenders in Brook Park. Ten of the offenders are registered to vote in Cuyahoga County and at least one person was assigned to vote at the Brookview Elementary polling place.
According to the sex offender registry, the 43-year-old Brook Park man was convicted of internet sex crimes involving a minor.
“I am absolutely considering not sending my kids to school,” Hollingsworth told newsnet5.com.
Brookview Elementary Principal Tracy Schneid told newsnet.com that she and Berea City Schools Superintendent Mike Sheppard are aware of parents’ concerns.
“My priority is always the safety and security of my students,” Schneid said in an email.
Sheppard told newsnet5.com that the district has made attempts to move the polling location in the past, but they were unsuccessful.
Sheppard said they are considering cancelling classes during the election in November but school will remain in session for Tuesday’s primary.
“I understand the concerns,” he said in a phone call Wednesday. “And it’s an inconvenience, there’s no question about it.”
The school has hired a police officer to guard the entrance to the library, which is being used as the polling room.
But Hollingsworth said she’d like to see more security.
“I feel that one guard at the door is not adequate to make sure our kids are secure the entire day,” she said.
Brook Park grandmother Lavaine Cates agreed with the concerns of other mothers.
“You don’t know who’s coming in and out of that school,” Cates told newsnet5.com. “I would be very leery about letting anyone into that polling place with children around.”
According to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections polling locations list, there are many schools designated as polling sites.
Section 3501.29 of the Ohio Revised code lists “rooms in public schools” as acceptable polling facilities.
“Over the years we have occasionally heard concerns about voting when school is in session and have been able to work out solutions with school administrators,” a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections said in a statement.