Sex Offenders and School Zones

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

When Rockford schools switch from choice to attendance zones this fall, the days of lengthy bus rides will be over. But some parents worry what their kids will face on the walk to school.
Sarah Sommerfield is researching registered sex offenders who live near her daughter's school.
"Six...That's pretty scary," she says.
She's not happy with what she's found and now that Rockford is switching from school choice bussing to attendance zones, she's got a new worry.
"They have to walk if they live within a one and a half mile radius of their school. This means that, that's 7,920 feet and a registered sex offender can live within 500 feet of a school. And I'm thinking they're going to pass a few in their path," says Sommerfield.
Under the new attendance boundaries her daughter will be walking to school next year.
"I'd like to see the bussing start a lot closer, say 501 feet if they can live at 500 feet," says Sommerfield.
But she says that still wouldn't solve the problem completely. Up until just a few days ago, her kids' bus stop was right across the street from a registered sex offender.
"I wrote an e-mail to the transportation department and they did change the stop but that alerted me to the issue that there are 555 registered sex offenders in Winnebago County, so the likelihood of our children having one near their stop is pretty great," says Sommerfield.
The district's transportation director says he takes sex offender homes into account when planning bus routes. But since there are so many and they move around frequently it's impossible to avoid them all.
You can look up the locations of registered sex offenders at www.familywatchdog.us.


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