To: Dr, Roger Dearing, Superintendent
cc: School Board Members
Fr: John Bowen, School Board Attorney
Re: Compliance with the Jessica Lunsford Act
Date: August 25, 2005
You have requested that I provide an explanation on how the district is complying with the Jessica Lunsford Act so that district personnel will know how to respond to questions.
The Jessica Lunsford Act was passed by the Legislature in response to the kidnapping, raping and murdering of Jessica Lunsford in Citrus County. This is a comprehensive law that is designed to strengthen the monitoring and control of sexual predators and offenders. It affects school districts because it expanded the number of people who must be fingerprinted and meet level 2 screening requirements. Level 2 screening requirements are that the fingerprints are sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to determine if the individual has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.
The school district has conducted in the past, and will continue to conduct in the future, level 2 screening of all employees and any individuals who are providing direct services to students pursuant to a contract. The Jessica Lunsford Act does not change that. What has changed is a new class of persons must now meet the level 2 screening requirements. The new class of persons is “contractual personnel who are permitted access on school grounds when students are present.” Included within the definition of “contractual personnel” are “any vendor, individual, or entity under contract with the school board.” That language creates a problem.
If a “vendor” or “entity” under contract with the School Board is a corporation, how do you fingerprint a corporation? Does that mean the Legislature intended that the employees of the corporation are required to be subjected to the level 2 screening since they can be fingerprinted? If the “entity” under contract with the School Board is a general contractor constructing new wings to an existing school during the school year, are the day laborers employed by a subcontractor required to be screened? Clearly, the language of the statute as amended does not cover subcontractors or day laborers hired by the subcontractor, although the Florida Department of Education is interpreting the amendments to cover them.
Since the language of the amended statute is so ambiguous, we have taken the position that we are going to implement it as written. The school district will be responsible for ensuring that its employees and persons providing direct services to students under contract meet the level 2 screening requirements. “Contractual personnel who are permitted access on school grounds when students are present,” will be responsible for ensuring that they meet the level 2 screening requirements. That means that persons delivering goods or services to a school while students are present, or their employer, are responsible for ensuring that they meet level 2 screening requirements. This includes anybody delivering goods or services to the school for payment of money. It does not include volunteers, parents, or other persons (such as spectators at sporting events) on school grounds while students are present.
How “contractual personnel” comply with the law is up to them. The school district does not have the equipment nor the personnel to fingerprint and conduct a level 2 screening on all of the employees of all vendors, individuals or entities doing business with the school district. If they are going to be fingerprinted and processed through a level 2 screening, it will have to be with another agency or district. The law does not require that covered persons go through the level 2 screening in each district.
Because we are uncertain as to what are the legal obligations of “contractual personnel” under the law, we are simply notifying them of the existence of the law and that they need to determine what their legal obligations are. We expect them to comply with the law, and if we become aware of a failure to comply, appropriate sanctions may be applied as provided in the law. Attached is a copy of the notification that we are sending to vendors, individuals and entities doing business with the school district. Should anybody inquire as to what is required of them with respect to the Jessica Lunsford Act, you should provide them with a copy of this notification and refer them to their own legal counsel for advice.
All schools should continue to provide for the safety of students on campus. Sign in requirements should be strictly enforced. Anybody on campus without an employee ID card or a visitor's tag should be reported immediately. Service providers, delivery persons and persons working on campus should not be allowed to commingle or fraternize with students.
Any contract entered into at the school level should contain the language in the attached paragraph entitled “Sexual Predator-Jessica Lunsford Act.” If a contracting party has any questions about what their obligations are under that language, they should be referred to their own legal counsel to advise them.
School District of Manatee County Florida · 215 Manatee Avenue West · Bradenton, Florida 34205 · (941) 708-8770