A Georgia legislative bill designed to keep convicted sex offenders off school boards was was signed into law on April 30 by Governor Sonny Perdue.
SB 14, co-sponsored by state Senator John Douglas (R-Social Circle), will become effective July 1.
"I am delighted Governor Perdue has signed our bill to prevent those on the state or national sex offender registry from seeking or holding a position on a local board of education," Douglas said. "Representatives Doug Holt and John Lunsford joined me in working for passage of the bill and now we can assure the people of Newton County and the other 179 Georgia school systems that this is a problem that will not surface again."
Douglas previously said he was spurred by a 2008 incident where a convicted sex offender, Horace Don Gresham, attempted to run for a school board seat in Newton County.
Gresham recently entered a not guilty plea to charges of felony count of false swearing and one felony count of false statement. The charges stem from a question on qualifying paperwork he filed to run for a seat on the Newton County Board of Education last year. On it, he indicated he did not have a previous felony conviction of "moral turpitude." In fact, Gresham had been convicted of felony sodomy in DeKalb County in 1988 and served just under 10 months of a one-year sentence at Rivers State Prison before being released on May 14, 1989. In addition to one year in prison, Gresham was also ordered to serve 11 years on probation, making him ineligible to seek office until 2010.
Gresham chose to continue to seek office even after his past convictions came to light. He withdrew his candidacy by letter moments before a special hearing in from of the Board of Elections to decide his eligibility.