Guinn Signs Bills Protecting Nevada Children

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A bill tightening Nevada's laws protecting children from sexual predators was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Kenny Guinn.

SB397 requires that school police be notified when a person convicted of sexual crimes expects to enroll or work at a college or university.

When sex offenders register with local law enforcement, they'd have to tell that department of their intent to attend or work at a college or university. Law enforcement agency would then notify the school's police.

In testimony on the bill, Jodi Tyson, director of the Nevada Coalition Against Sexual Violence, said another provision allows volunteer groups on campus to know the background of some of their volunteers.

She said two people who volunteered at a University of Nevada, Las Vegas center that disseminates information about sexual abuse were later found to have been convicted of sex crimes.

Guinn also signed a bill easing the methods for establishing permanent guardians for children who can't be reunited with their natural parents and aren't likely candidates for adoption.

AB273 allows child welfare agencies, not-for-profit groups and interested individuals to petition juvenile courts directly to establish guardianship for a child. Currently, all guardianship hearings are held in separate courts.

Petitions for guardianships could only be filed after the court has ruled out adoption and decided there is no opportunity to reunite the children with their natural parents.

Proponents said making children change courts wastes time and money and is disruptive for the youth.

Nevada uses guardianships to comply with permanency requirements for abused and neglected children. The federal government has mandated that states cannot let children languish in foster care and must establish permanency plans for them.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)