Only On 6: Unknown Offenders

Only On 6: Unknown Offenders

Wichita Falls, TX -

Each day the school bell rings and Texoma kids head to class never knowing if the student sitting next to them could be sex offender. Newschannel 6 did some digging to find out what school districts and law enforcement are doing to keep kids safe.

We caught up with a few parents as they were picking up their kids from school in Wichita Falls to get their thoughts. Kristy Spaulding, a parent of one junior high school student was one of them.

"I think they are everywhere and we just don't know about it," said Spaulding.

Newschannel 6 obtained records from Wichita County Juvenile Probation office and between 2010-2014 there have been 86 juvenile cases processed and 74 adjudicated juveniles (ages 10-17). If adjudicated, a judge or jury has found that the juvenile engaged in some type of delinquent conduct.

"Presently, we have 23 active sex offender cases on our specialized case load for sex offenders," said Kirk Wolfe, Wichita County Chief Juvenile Probation Officer. "Most of them are out in the community and public school."

However, we discovered it seems most parents don't even know it.

"I think everyone should be made of aware of that," said resident.

"I think parents should be notified," said parent.

Texas state law says only law enforcement, district leaders, principals, and teachers can know which students are sex offenders.

The Wichita County Juvenile Probation office said there are nine juvenile adjudicated sex offenders in Wichita Falls Independent Schools. However, district leaders say they are only required to keep track of registered juvenile sex offenders.

Sex Offenders in Texoma school districts as of January 2015:

Wichita Falls ISD 9

Burkburnett ISD 1

Iowa Park ISD 1

City View ISD 0

Electra ISD 0

"I would never say for a parent not to be worried about their kids and their surroundings," said Wolfe. 

Newschannel 6 talked with two parents who did not want to be interviewed on camera for this story. However, both expressed their concerns. 

A mother whose child attends a local elementary school told us she is very concerned that a sex offender would be allowed to interact with her kid in the classroom. 

A parent with two junior high schools students told us she looks up adult sex offenders online, why can't she know what juvenile sex offenders are in her child's school. 

"WFISD has an agreement with the probation department that juvenile sex offenders will be brought to the Wichita County JJAEP for their education and will stay here at least six weeks," said Wolfe.

The JJAEP is the Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program. Wolfe said the program's goal is to help offenders become productive citizens and also forms of a means of public safety. However, admits it's a difficult task.

"One thing about juvenile probation, they always outgrow us. We only have them until they're 18. Then after that they are discharged from probation." 

Wolfe said most of the reported sex offenders in its program are in there because of aggravated sexual assault and most victims are younger or familiar with the perpetrator.

"They could be siblings, cousins, other relatives, or next door neighbor," said Wolfe. 

He said 90 percent of juvenile sex offenders in Texoma are able to enter back into the community and schools upon completing their time.

Each school district Newschannel 6 reached out to in Texoma sent us copies of the procedures they have in place to protect students. All policies were based on the states requirement to place registered juvenile sex offenders in an alternative education program. 

"If we do have a registered sex offender that goes through our director of district administration," said Ashley Thomas, Wichita Falls Independent School District Communications Officer.

Thomas said the district's Director of District Administration would then pass that information along to administrators who would then inform teachers who would have any interaction with the juvenile sex offender.

"If there is anything at all that can cause a concern they are removed from the schools. So we are doing everything from our end to make sure that students are safe," said Thomas. 

While Kristy Spaulding believes her child is safe in school. However, thinks if parents are being kept in the dark, schools should be educating students on how they should react if a juvenile sex offender were to approach them inappropriately. 

"They should teach the kids more about it, to be more cautious about and know what to do if something was to happen to them," said Spaulding.

WFISD school officials say if you have any questions about your child's safety, you are welcome to contact district them at district headquarters.

Wichita County Juvenile probation officials said over the past five years there has only been one adjudicated sex offender that has reoffended while in its treatment program. 

Jimmie Johnson, Newschannel 6