(WMC-TV) - An Action News Five Investigation reveals registered sex offenders, including those convicted of child molestation and child pornography, living alarmingly close to school bus stops.
Roughly 54,000 students are eligible to ride the bus each day in Shelby County. While Tennessee law prohibits sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools and day cares, there are no rules when it comes to them living near where your child gets on or off the bus.
"It makes me feel, not stupid, but that I have been ... Completely naive," said parent Harriet Turk. "It's something that we don't normally think about that we live near predators."
The Investigators requested a list, by address, of all Shelby County School bus stops to determine if children were unknowingly standing and waiting in front of a sex offender's home while catching the bus. The district denied our request over concerns that making the locations public "may be providing potential sexual offenders with information that could create safety risks for SCBE students."
The district made no mention of the risks that already exist.
For example, a convicted sex offender lives less than two-tenths of a mile away from a Shelby County School bus stop in Cordova.
The Investigators found 15 registered sex offenders, including a man convicted of child molestation and another for possessing child porn, within walking distance of an East Memphis bus stop.
Neighborhoods all over Shelby County repeated the similar pattern.
"Thinking that our kids are safe at school bus stops because it's right by our home, so you don't think that a predator lives in your neighborhood ... That's something that we should think about," said parent Harriet Turk.
Since September, the Action News 5 Investigators have asked for information on how Shelby County School bus routes are mapped and if the publicly registered locations of sex offenders are ever considered.
"The safety and security of all of our students is our primary concern in everything we do," said the district's chief communications officer Emily Yellin in a written statement. "Routing of school buses is an ongoing process. We take many factors into consideration in planning routes, and investigate anything that may affect the safety or security of a particular route. We also work with parents and our staff throughout the year to make adjustments as conditions change."
Lubbock Independent School District security chief in Texas responded to parents' concerns after investigators discovered a bus stop directly in front of one sex offender's home.
"I think it would be a logistical nightmare to be 100 percent honest with you. For the bus stops ... For your children's convenience there's no way to make it 100 percent safe," said chief Jody Scifres.
In Bossier Parish Louisiana, school leaders encouraged parents to contact them directly with concerns about sex offenders on their bus routes.
"If need be, we will relocate a bus stop," said Sonja Bailes, with Bossier Parish Schools.
The same solution was offered by the Director of Transportation for schools in Horry County, South Carolina.
"If I can move something to protect a kid and make it safer for them, we'll do that. And I've done that on numerous occasions," said director Jim Wright.
With more than 2,200 registered sex offenders in Shelby County relocating bus stops away from nearby offenders may be impossible.
Shelby County Schools would not explain what factors are taken into consideration when planning bus routes or how district staff worked with parents to make adjustments to routes throughout the year.
While investigating this story, a reporter stopped by one offender's address. He is convicted of receiving and possessing child pornography and lived within walking distance of a bus stop in Cordova.
His house was empty, and his new address has not been updated on the sex offender registry. You can see that registry here.
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