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Parents say bus stop changes force their kids to cross U.S. 1 and pass a sex offender

Posted at 7:33 PM, Aug 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-10 08:44:30-04

Children being forced to cross U.S. 1 to get to school. That’s only a fraction of why this latest group of parents is angry about the bus stop changes in Martin County.

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They say their kids will have to pass by a registered sex offender to get to school.

“Everybody’s livid,” said mom Sailee Johnson whose seventh grader is impacted.

All of this stems from those 90 bus stops that were eliminated heading into this school year.

For several of the parents, they say having their kids walk isn’t an option, and the alternatives will cost them.

“You’re looking at 2 miles in the heat,” said Brian Long who has three students impacted.

Their kids are among the 600 other students in Martin County whose bus stop was eliminated because they live within 2 miles of their school and their walking route is no longer considered hazardous.

However, like so many other parents they argue otherwise.

“Crossing a main road. No crossing guards,” pointed out mom Melanie Howe.
It’s not just the heat or crossing this busy portion of U.S. 1 that’s an issue.

They say their kids will likely have to pass by registered sex offenders’ houses.  

“He has to walk past that house in order to cross U.S. 1,” said Johnson.
All of this is why they says walking isn’t an option.
The alternatives, a fee-based transportation option, or taking the kids themselves, these parents say they can't afford. 

“I’m going to have to choose the lesser of two evils. Lose money because we have to leave work or pay the money for a bus and we just can’t afford either one,” said Long. 

Even the school board is at odds with the new bussing system. They were still looking at ways to avoid putting kids in dangerous situations during a meeting Wednesday.

"The fact that we are sitting here now, 5 days before school starts and this is exactly what I said in March, let's just go back to status quo, and, we're going to say go back to status quo?" says Tina McSoley, a school board member.

"Crossing US 1 is dangerous. Tell me we do not have a liability, because we know that that danger exists and we're just going to say 'well, we can't do anything about that?'" said Marsha Powers, a fellow board member.

In a surprise, the board did make one move for the Banner Lake neighborhood, who was well represented Wednesday night.

They agreed on a contract to pick kids up for  a fee on a new bus route.

The superintendent of Martin County schools released the following statement regarding the issue:

"The Martin County School District staff has great empathy for parental concerns related to recent changes in school bus service offered to students. More importantly, all parents need to take whatever actions they deem best to protect their own children as they walk, bike or car ride to school given the geographic location of their home relative to their zoned school."