Feb 25, 2014 11:07 PM by Kristi Tedesco
TUCSON - Kristi's Kids got word that sex offenders are registering in close proximity to Tucson-area school bus stops, and the public isn't being notified.
An 11 year old girl (we'll call "Michelle") was walking to her bus stop late last month when, she says, two strangers pulled up and offered her a ride. She says, it happened twice and she denied them both times. Then, "Michelle" said "...he came up again and he's like 'ok I'm not asking, I'm telling you to get in the car.'" Michelle started running toward her bus stop, just as the bus pulled up. She hopped on, and the suspects drove off. Michelle tells Kristi's Kids, "I don't know what would have happened if the bus wasn't right there."
Kristi's Kids did some investigating and found that the last known address of a Level-3 sex offender, was near Michelle's bus stop. A convicted child molester, whom we tried to find. It's important to note, however, that there's no indication that this person had anything to do with Michelle's incident.
When we knocked on the door of the complex, we were greeted by two residents. One said "... he doesn't live here..." The resident also said, he had never heard the person's name before.
We didn't find him, but Kristi's Kids wondered how a known sex offender could register so close to a school bus stop.
According to Tucson police, unless the person's on probation or parole, there are no legal restrictions as to where they can live. TPD also says, when a sex offender moves in, they must- first- register with the Sheriff's office. Then, that information is shared with the Department of Public Safety and Tucson Police.
"Michelle's" bus stop is in the Tucson Unified School District. It's one of 5,000 drop-off and pick-up points that are serviced twice a day. In a statement, TUSD tells Kristi's Kids- in part- "It is the responsibility of our entire community to protect our children. TUSD school safety officers report all incidents of stranger danger to law enforcement officials. When schools receive flyers reporting a sex offender in the area, the schools post them."
And this applies to other districts as well, such as Flowing Wells. At a bus stop in that district, Cynthia Gonzales keeps a close eye on her grandkids and their classmates, from inside her car. She says, "...I can go to work, piece of mind, I don't have to worry about them, that they didn't make it or something happened.
Miriam Marsteller is also in the Flowing Wells district. She says, "we usually get information about registered sex offenders in our area". She says, she understands that sex offenders have to live somewhere. Meantime, we found one who's VERY upset with his label. He's classified as a Level-3 offender because, initially, he failed to register. We aren't naming him, because he's doing nothing wrong.
He told Kristi's Kids, he's upset. He says, "...I am blanketed with all the *** who are actually touching little *** babies..."
Miriam Marsteller, says "... I think everyone, you know, deserves a second chance sometimes..." She also tells Kristi's Kids, all parents should do the homework. Cross check your child's bus stop, with the sex offender registry, and supervise the kids at the bus stop.
The Flowing Wells District tells Kristi's Kids, when parents bring a concern to them "... we respond by evaluating the information, visiting the site, and considering alternative locations..."
The neighboring Amphitheater School District says "...We are constantly evaluating bus stop placement with an eye on safety. We want to make sure that we do what's right for children."
Since Michelle's incident, her school bus stop has been moved, but Michelle's family is still concerned. They want TUSD to pick another spot. TUSD tells Kristi's Kids, it's looking into the matter.
The bottom line? It's parents who need to cross-check school bus stops with the sex offender registry.
To cross check your child's bus stop, click here.
The full statement from the Tucson Unified School District. TUSD Spokesperson, Cara Rene said, "It is the responsibility of our entire community to protect our children. TUSD School Safety officers reports all incidents of stranger danger to law enforcement officials. When schools receive flyers reporting a sex offender in the area, the schools post them. TUSD has 5,000 bus stops and when the district has received specific concerns about a particular stop, the concern is investigated. If warranted, changes are made."
The full statement from the Flowing Wells School District Superintendent, Dr. David Baker. "Flowing Wells works to keep all bus stops safe for our students and community. Our community members contact us when they receive information in their neighborhood and we respond by evaluating the information, visiting the site, and considering alternative locations. We try to keep our bus stops in a consistent location to support our families, but will move a stop when adjustments are necessary and appropriate for our students. Our bus drivers are vigilant in speaking with students and parents throughout their bus runs, and our district offices are able to quickly respond to parent contact. As new information becomes available, we work to keep our students safe. We believe that strong two-way communication between our families and the District is the best way to keep all of our students safe."
The full statement from Mindy Blake, Spokesperson for the Amphitheater School District. "Amphitheater School District take students' safety very seriously at all times. We have moved bus stops to different locations based on information we receive from local law enforcement. Our school bus drivers are trained to look for suspicious activity around bus stops and while on their routes. If a driver sees a person or vehicle that induces suspicion, the driver will call 911. Our drivers have a motto: "If you see something, say something. We do provide curb to curb service for students with special needs. We also pick up children in front of their homes if the walk to the nearest bus stop is deemed unsafe because of road conditions or other concerns. We are constantly evaluating bus stop placement with an eye on safety. We want to make sure that we do what's right for children"
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