Pinellas student has to walk by sex offenders on way to school - WFLA News Channel 8

Pinellas student has to walk by sex offenders on way to school

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HERNANDO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

When her son was ready to start middle school in Pinellas County, Dawn Mencarini assumed he would ride the bus.

She mapped her Tropic Hills address and determined her home was 2.4 miles from Oak Grove Middle School.

But,the Pinellas School District transportation department told her that her son could walk on the Pinellas Trail and cut the distance to a little over a mile and a half, so he would not receive bus service.

Mencarini was surprised the school district's recommended walking route would take him right by an apartment complex at 2500 Harn Blvd, where dozens of sex offenders live."They literally are walking in front of...probably their living room windows..where they can see them walking by," said Mencarini.

The Pinellas Sheriff's office confirms 47 sex offenders, 10 of them predators, live at three apartment complexes clustered along the Pinellas Trail at Harn Blvd.

Mencarini is concerned about middle school children walking a predictable route, at a regular time where they can be easily observed by so many sex offenders.  "They see these children walking by, at 9:05, whatever, the risk is there and I fear they're waiting for something to happen before they do something about it," said Mencarini.

She first contacted the Pinellas School Districts transportation office to appeal the decision this summer, and was denied.

When 8 On Your Side inquired, the school district sent this statement, "Bus transportation cannot be made available to a student due to proximity of a walk route to a sexual offender's residence.  It would be extremely difficult to provide bus transportation to all students in Pinellas that have a walk route in proximity of a sexual offender's residence."

There are restrictions when it comes to bus stops.  If there is a sexual offender under conditional release within a 1000 feet of a bus stop, the transportation department will relocate the bus stop.

In the meantime, Mencarini plans to drive her son to school.

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