Parents want privacy fence to block sex offender's view of school



VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - A group of parents in Volusia County is stepping up its efforts to keep their children safe from a convicted sex offender who lives right next to Sugarmill Elementary School in Port Orange.

They want school officials to build a privacy fence around Howard Porter’s house on McDonald Road which has a clear view of the school’s playground.

Before they proposed the fence idea several parents asked Port Orange city officials to force Porter to move, but they were unable to.

In 2004, Porter was convicted in a New York federal court for distributing child pornography. State law would prevent him from living within 1,000 feet of a school, but Porter was convicted before that law went into effect, and the city of Port Orange does not have its own ordinance restricting where sex offenders can live.

So now, parents are pushing to block Porter’s view of the school because they want something to be done quickly.

“That would help some, I mean, if he couldn’t see the kids on the P.E. field, kids on the playground or anything,” said Mike Melnicoff, whose three children play in the area.

Parents have already emailed the school board asking for the fence, or at least mesh to distort the view. They worry Porter will take pictures or video.

Meanwhile, Porter said he’s only there to get back on his feet but now he’s concerned for his own safety.

“I went to Facebook and I’m more worried about me because everybody is threatening my life and everything,” Porter said.

Parents are expected to voice their concerns at the next school board meeting.