MOUNT VERNON, Va. — Fairfax County Public Schools changed the bus stop location for students in Mount Vernon after a parent raised concerns over its proximity to a registered sex offender.
The bus stop in question sits at the corner of Cedar Road and Black Alder Drive.
FCPS announced that starting on Tuesday, the new pick-up and drop-off spot will be at the corner of Black Alder Drive and Teak Court, about a block away and out of view from the home.
A father, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he recently learned a registered sex offender was in his community. When he looked up his address, he was shocked to realize the home he was registered to sits right in front of the bus stop, which serves children attending Mount Vernon High School, Whitman Middle School, and Washington Mill Elementary School.
The sex offender was convicted in 2016, although it is unclear how long he resided in the neighborhood.
“The kids stand smack dab in front of the address,” he said. “I would hope that if it was your children in the neighborhoods you live in, I highly doubt you would allow them to sit in that situation without rectifying it.”
In Virginia, some registered sex offenders are restricted from living within 500 feet of a primary, second, or high school, child day center or public park that shares a border with a school and is regularly used for school activities.
However, state law does not specifically address bus stops.
The father requested school officials move the bus stop away from the view of the home on Friday.
In an email response provided by the father on the same day, the Office of Transportation Services Director Francine Furby said, “While we will consider moving a stop because of its proximity to an offender’s home, the fact that your child might be visible to the offender at some point on the walk to the stop does not warrant the movement of the stop. Parents are responsible for supervising their children and selecting their children’s walking route to and from bus stops, but should you have specific concerns about this person’s actions or behavior, please contact the Fairfax County Police Department.”
The father felt the answer was inadequate.
On Monday, an FCPS spokesperson replied to questions from WUSA9 by saying that safety of all students is the number one priority for the transportation department, and that the stop has been moved “so students should not be waiting in the vicinity of concern.”
The district said the neighborhoods layout limits where bus stops are relocated. The initial location was chosen due to traffic safety considerations and loading and unloading operations.
A spokesperson for the Fairfax County Police Department said they have a school liaison commander to help provide necessary information to school officials about a sex offender. The spokesperson said ultimately, decisions to move a stop rely on FCPS.
In a separate email on Monday, Furby apologized to the father.
“Our correspondence did not convey our commitment and I apologize for that,” the email read. “The location of the bus stop was moved so students would not be waiting at that driveway. I personally observed the stop location this morning, and after further review and consideration, the bus stop will be relocated to Black Alder and Teak Court. The issue of moving bus stops because of proximity of an address listed on the sex offender registry has been discussed in depth with law enforcement and safety officials numerous times over many years. When we are aware of a problem or when we have concerns expressed, we try our best to move the stop to another location. There are a vast number of discrepancies and problems with the sex offender registry making it difficult to ensure that no stops will be in the proximity of a sex offender or of an address listed on the sex offender registry.”
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