County supervisors voted 4-0 Wednesday support state legislation that would restrict the placement of sexually violent predators near home schooling sites.
The motion by Supervisors Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond directs the chief administrative officer to request that state legislation governing SVP placement take home school sites into account, along with public and private schools.
CAO Helen Robbins-Meyer was also directed to take action against any proposed court-ordered placement of an SVP near a home, private or public school site.
“It’s an issue that affects all of our districts in our county, and we’re all doing what we can to protect our communities,” said Desmond, who referred to the proposed placement of Douglas Badger in the rural desert community of Borrego Springs.
A state hospital last year proposed putting the 79-year-old Badger into a home at 1619 Zuni Trail, where he would undergo treatment, be monitored by GPS and be prohibited from leaving the residence without supervision.
Borrego Springs residents spoke out against the proposed placement, which will be decided by Superior Court Judge Theodore Weathers.
A 2021 proposal to put Badger in a Rancho Bernardo home also received similar opposition.
Desmond said an appeals court recently ruled in favor of treating home schools the same as private and public institutions.
“We want to advocate for this change through the state Legislature as well,” he said.
Anderson said many rural communities don’t have the same educational choices as urban schools, and children there “should have the same right to world-class education as any other child.”
On Jan. 5, Anderson and Desmond sent a letter to Weathers about the home school issue.
“In San Diego County, there are several home-school sites, study and charter programs for children of all ages, where students are taught in a residential home environment, alternative to standard and mainstream education in school facilities,” according to the letter.
“Many of these children have special needs or developmental disabilities, and are particularly vulnerable to dangers and predators in their surrounding environments.”
Last year, supervisors voted to formally oppose placing SVPs in the county. During a public comment period Wednesday, nearly 20 people voiced support for equal treatment of home schools.
Terrie Kellmeyer, who lives in Borrego Springs, said she home-schools her children directly across the street from the proposed housing site for Badger.
“I’m personally living this nightmare right now, and have been living this nightmare for the last six months,” said Kellmeyer.
Kellmeyer said “the fear is real” for families, and children are worried they will be attacked at night and can’t focus on their education during the daytime.
Kellmeyer said that she didn’t think she would have to tell her children that “they have to be on guard, 24-seven” about a predator possibly living nearby.
“A school is a school is a school,” Kellmeyer said. “My children should not be experiments.”
Sarah Rogers, a retired clinical psychologist and Borrego Springs resident, said there are about 700 SVPs in California.
Rogers said only 40% of SVPs choose to participate in treatment programs, and they are likely to re-offend.
She added that out of those in conditional release programs in California, 50% fail it and are returned to custody.
“Parents need to have the flexibility to choose where their children are schooled at home,” Rogers said, adding she appreciates the Board of Supervisors’ past support of policies against SVP placement.
Board Chair Nora Vargas thanked the public for their input, while her colleague Nathan Fletcher called the proposal an appropriate step.
Board Vice Chair Terra Lawson-Remer was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.
City News Service contributed to this article.