Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bill Introduced To Keep Bus Stops Away From Sex Offenders' Homes

Bill Introduced To Keep Bus Stops Away From Sex Offenders' Homes

POSTED: 5:51 pm EST January 4, 2008
UPDATED: 6:42 pm EST January 4, 2008

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. -- A northern Virginia lawmaker wants to bar school districts from placing bus stops in front of sex offenders' homes.
News4 first reported last January on a Clifton father's concerns that his daughter's bus stop was directly in front of a registered child sex offender's home.

Related: Watch The Report

A second family raised similar concerns to a northern Virginia lawmaker when school officials refused to change the stop.

"I was flabbergasted. I could not believe it was right in front of the house, and when I called the school and tried to explain it to him, I was told the school does not move bus stops for this purpose," said Fairfax County parent Kathie Truitt.

Jim Foley encountered the same response more than a year ago when he began his battle to have a bus stop changed.

"Our children's safety is the most important thing to my wife and I, and it's not a fight we're going to quit on," said Foley.

Now Delegate David Englin is introducing a bill that would prohibit school districts from locating bus stops within 50 feet of registered sex offenders' homes and require all districts to publish a plan detailing safety rules for bus stops.

"It really defies common sense for, as a matter of public policy, the commonwealth of Virginia to allow children to congregate each morning in front of the home of a person who has committed a crime against a child," Englin said.

But Fairfax County public school officials said they will oppose the legislation, and they stand by their policy.

They said they do not move bus stops solely because of a sex offender's residence.

School security officials said with more than 350 registered sex offenders in the county, it would be a logistical nightmare to avoid sex offenders' homes.

"FCPS has reviewed this issue with detectives who work with sexual predators and found no data to support the claim that children are at a greater risk from sexual offenders who live near bus stops," said Superintendent Jack Dale in a letter.

The 2008 session of the Virginia General Assembly convenes next Wednesday.

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