By Rachel Glaser
South Bend Schools Transportation Department does not check sex offender list before setting school bus stops.
SOUTH BEND - A big yellow school bus stopped at the corner of 35th Street and Marshall Avenue on Monday afternoon. As soon as the doors folded open, a group of young children piled off the bus and ran onto the pavement as their backpacks bounced up and down behind them.
“I don’t think that bus stop should have been there, I think the schools should be more aware,” Krystal Holcomb said. Holcomb’s two children, a kindergartner and first grader both take the school bus to and from the McKinley Primary Center every day.
Their assigned bus stop is just three houses down the street, but Holcomb no longer allows her kids to get on or off at that stop. “I feel bad for all those other kids, getting picked up by a child molester’s house,” Holcomb said.
At the beginning of the school year Holcomb checked sex offender registry, “We went online and found out he’s a sexual predator over there.” Her kids were getting dropped off right in front of a registered sex offender’s house.
“We were definitely concerned about the bus stop being near a sexual predator,” Mike Jenkins said, his son a second grader was also let off the bus at that stop.
Jenkins showed ABC-57 News exactly where his son got off the bus, just feet away from a registered sex offender’s front door, “I’m literally in his yard, yes,” Jenkins said.
[name withheld] lives inside that house on the corner, he’s registered on the FBI’s list of sex offenders, convicted of child solicitation in 2005.
“That guy is a sexual predator and he tries coming outside and talking to the kids,” Holcomb said. When parents complained to the school board the stop was changed, but the new stop is not very far away.
Holcomb said, “Now they get picked up on the corner on the other side, just catty-corner.”
The bus stop was moved just across the street, “Ah, no, no that doesn’t make it any better,” Yolanda Campbell. Her son is a kindergartner at McKinley Primary Center, she said she had no idea a registered sex offender lived so close to the bus stop.
“I checked around me, around my house on my block but not the bus stop,” Campbell said. Even after other parents notified the school, the transportation department and the school board, other parents with children assigned to that stop were not notified.
Most of the parents assumed the school would make sure students got picked up and dropped off in safe areas, “That should be a policy,” Campbell said.
The dispatcher at South Bend Schools Transportation Department in charge of the route confirmed the stop was moved because of the complaints from parents about the sex offender. The dispatcher also said the department does not check the sex offender list before designating bus stops because there are too many who move too much.
“It’s not fair,” Jenkins said, “They should find a route around it or at least have a staff member out here with the kids.”
- What about parents who are freaked out about it, being parents, and being out there with their kids? You are responsible for your kids safety, not someone else!
“I definitely think it’s putting them at risk,” Holcomb said the bus stop is like bait for a sexual predator. “It’s creepy, so we try to stay away.”