School district implementation of Megan's Law

Guest blogger, Kyle Berman, writes about Pennsylvania’s version of Megan’s Law and implementation of notice and information dissemination procedures for a school district. Kyle is a member of the Education Law Group with a practice emphasis in Labor and day-to-day school operations.  Click here to find out more about Kyle’s background and contact information.

What is a school district to do when it receives a notice concerning a “sexually violent predator” as classified by the courts? There are several duties imposed on a school district following a Megan's Law notification - but you would not know it by examining only the statute itself. The law is not contained at one publicly accessible site, but the Pennsylvania State Police’s website provides some information.

Pennsylvania’s version of Megan’s Law specifies various community notifications, the District being only one of many persons and organizations to be notified of the predator’s

presence. Others include the victim, the neighbors, director of the county children and youth department, directors of any day care facilities and superintendents of schools. The notice is provided to schools both in the same municipality and those within a one-mile radius of the predator’s home, work, and or school.

The police have an affirmative duty to notify the District. However, the statute contains no requirement that the notification to the District result in further notifications by the District. By the same token there is nothing barring you from telling others.

While the statute does not require anything further of the District once the Superintendent has been notified, the regulations pertaining to Megan's Law impose further duties on a District. Specifically, 37 Pa. Code §56.4 provides that:

the superintendent . . . shall disseminate the information regarding the sexually violent predator to individuals whose duties include supervision of or responsibility for students. Those individuals so notified shall include administrators, teachers, teachers aids, security officials, crossing guards, groundskeepers, bus drivers and the like. Individuals whose duties include supervision of or responsibility for students shall be instructed to promptly notify the principal or other designated official if the sexually violent predator is observed in the vicinity. The principal or other designated official shall promptly notify the local law enforcement agency if the presence of the sexually violent predator appears to be without a legitimate purpose or otherwise creates concern for the safety of the students. . . .

Therefore, a District will need to notify the “administrators, teachers, teachers aids, security officials, crossing guards, groundskeepers, bus drivers and the like.” The District also needs to designate an appropriate individual as the point of contact for school personnel who might see the predator in the vicinity of the school. The contact person is also responsible for passing-on information from school personnel to the local police.

Although a District does not need to post the information in the school, the District will need some mechanism to disseminate the information to those that are required to have it.

As above, there is no single source on-line for the actual statute because the courts have repeatedly reviewed and struck-down portions of it. In response the legislature has enacted modified versions of the excised portions. Because of all the changes that have crept into the original Act, it is well worth your while to consult with counsel if you are ever faced with such a notice sent to your school district.