ARLINGTON, Va. (WUSA) - Could your child's school bus stop be near a registered sex offender? There's a good possibility, given the large number of offenders living around us. Both Fairfax and Arlington Counties have recently moved school bus stops away from sex offenders after parents complained.
Concerned that a registered sex offender lives near her daughter's school bus stop, Susan Holt was successful in getting Arlington County schools to move it a few blocks away. However, the move came only after WUSA9 reported on the situation Monday.
"As long as they changed the stop, I'm happy."
Arlington County Schools tell WUSA 9 that the late bus stop has been moved, but late buses were canceled on Tuesday due to weather concerns, so Holt says she cannot confirm it's been moved until she sees it.
Holt found out the registered offender man lived in her neighborhood by checking on the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry. He lives six homes away from the bus stop before it was moved.
"It's frightening to think you could be snatched at a bus stop," said Sue Culpepper who already knows there are 20 registered sex offenders living in the 22180 zip code. That's where Fairfax County's Timber Lane elementary is located, and where her children used to attend.
"My kids are now in middle and high school, but I still watch the bus stop. Or, one of my friends lives around the corner, or she keeps her eye on the bus stop. Just to make sure they're safe," said Culpepper.
Many states, including Virginia have proximity laws to keep sex offenders away from children. Virginia's law which took affect in 2006 makes it illegal for some sex offenders to live within 500 feet of schools or daycares. Virginia has no laws which keep sex offenders from living near school bus stops.
In Fairfax County, the area's largest school district, 1,500 school buses transport 110,000 students every school day. Since there are hundreds of registered sex offenders living in the County, moving bus stops away from them isn't always easy says John Torre the schools spokesperson. But, he says, they recently did move a stop away from a sex offender after a parent made the request.
"Our policy is that if we do receive a specific request that a sex offender's resident is within 200 feet of a bus stop, we'll consider the request and make the change and move the bus stop if it doesn't compromise traffic safety," said Torre.
He says they won't move a stop from a quiet street to busy street that's more dangerous.