SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Just days before the start of the new school year, Springfield Public Schools changed a Pershing Middle School bus stop after a parent alerted the district her student would have to walk past two sex offenders’ homes in order to get to and from the bus alone each day.
The school district moved the stop to accommodate the parents’ concerns.
“I was panicked,” said Amy DeVane, the student’s mother.
SPS told KOLR 10 Investigates although the district changed the location, it was no mistake and leaders couldn’t answer how many other bus riders may also be expected to walk past sex offenders’ homes on their way to catch the bus.
Travis Shaw is the deputy superintendent of operations for Springfield Public Schools. He said there are several factors determining which streets buses take, including traffic patterns, visibility, and distance students have to walk.
The district’s last step is cross-referencing the bus map with the sex offender registry. SPS tries to keep bus stops at least 500 feet away from sex offenders.
“Our goal is to be outside of 500 feet,” said Shaw. “In that particular situation my understanding is there were a cluster of [sex offender] homes and so that 500 feet actually overlapped.”
KOLR 10 Investigates took a closer look at the clusters of sex offenders living in Springfield that Shaw mentioned. While some neighborhoods in Northwest Springfield have a higher concentration of sex offenders living withing close proximity of one another, that’s not the case in the DeVanes’ neighborhood in Southeast Springfield.
In fact, there are no other sex offenders living withing 4,000 feet of the original bus stop.
“My primary concern is the offenses were all against minors and he’s an 11-year-old who would be him walking at times alone without any supervision,” said DeVane.
Documentation from the Missouri State Highway Patrol confirms the two sex offenders living near the original bus stop were convicted of crimes against minors. One man was convicted of sexual misconduct against a 6-year-old victim. The other nearby resident was convicted of raping a 15-year-old.
This family encourages other parents to check the sex offender registry for themselves.
If you have a story you’d like Investigative Reporter Lauren Barnas to look into, send her an email: email@example.com.