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Baltimore County lawmaker proposes banning student sex offenders from school campuses

A Baltimore County state senator is drafting a proposal to prohibit student sex offenders from school campuses statewide.

Sen. Kathy Klausmeier said Monday the bill would apply to registered sex offenders regardless of their age. The state already has laws prohibiting sex offenders who aren’t students from school campuses, she said.

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The proposal comes after Santino E. Sudano, a 21-year-old Parkville High School student, was charged in December with second degree rape, according to court documents. Sudano had pleaded guilty to a fourth degree sex offense in April 2018.

Klausmeier said she was “appalled” to hear what happened at Parkville High from a TV news report. She vowed lawmakers “will stop this from ever occurring again.”

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“The bill will say that no sex offender is allowed at any school, period,” she said.

Klausmeier said Maryland has other resources in place to help educate students who are sex offenders, such as online education and private tutoring. She announced the proposal Monday alongside Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. and other local lawmakers.

The Baltimore County School system said Sudano enrolled in Parkville High on July 1, 2019, and was a student until December.

But an officer investigating one of the alleged sexual assaults wrote in a police report that he had seen a letter from the Parkville principal saying that Sudano could attend the school, but the letter expired in May 2018. The school system did not respond to requests to explain the discrepancy.

Brandon Oland, a spokesman for the school system, said Superintendent Darryl Williams “believes that students with serious criminal offenses should not be in a traditional classroom setting.”

Officers have investigated allegations of sexual assault against Sudano three times, according to police reports and court documents. Efforts to reach Sudano’s attorney were unsuccessful.

In November, a student at another Baltimore County high school told police that Sudano raped her at his home. The victim said she was friend’s with Sudano’s younger sister, and had come to the home to see her. She found Sudano in the bedroom he shares with his sister, but the sister wasn’t home.

The two talked, according to charging documents, before Sudano pinned her down and raped her. He now faces second degree rape charges in that case.

The latest charges against Sudano were first reported by Fox 45.

Police investigated another allegation in November 2018. The victim — a Parkville High School student — told police Sudano raped and sexually assaulted her while the two were dating in April and May, according to a police report, but the teenager did not pursue charges.

And Sudano had to register as a sex offender after a 2017 incident. According to charging documents, the parents of a 13-year-old girl contacted police after finding evidence that the then 19-year-old Sudano and their daughter had a sexual relationship. Sudano pleaded guilty to fourth degree sex offense in 2018.

School officials are prevented by federal law from discussing the details of an individual student’s case. However they did provide a few specifics.

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“The student was relatively new to the school system,” Oland said.

Speaking in generalities, Oland said school officials meet to decide the best plan for every new student.

In this case, he said, the Parkville High School principal put together a plan that allowed him to attend school to satisfy his education requirements. The pricipal approved the plan with the support of her supervisors and the school system’s lawyers, he said.

“Conditions were put in place for the safety of all students and staff,” Oland said. “I can’t get into what those conditions were. I do not have any record of him taking part in extracurricular activities.”

It is unusual for a 21-year-old to be in the school system, he said. Students in special education are often allowed to stay until age 21. Some students who have not completed high school in four years also are allowed to take some classes to get their diploma.

Oland said the school system supports Klausmeier’s legislation.

The latest incident has stirred up concern among several parents in the county. Lily Rowe, member of the Board of Education of Baltimore County, said she is “extremely alarmed by the entire situation.” She said her daughter is going to Parkville High next year.

“I don’t think anyone would ever imagine that someone on the adult sex offender registry could attend a public high school with 14-year-old girls and other vulnerable people," Rowe said.

Rowe said she doesn’t understand “how or why” the older student was admitted, but she wants to review other schools to “make sure this isn’t occurring anywhere else.”

“I find the entire thing very distressing," Rowe said. “We definitely need to remedy this so this can never happen again,”

Baltimore Sun Media Group reporter Cody Boteler contributed to this article.

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