Bus stop won’t change to avoid sex offender’s house

At this time of year, school officials get many requests for changes to school bus stops: Reasons vary. School administrators accommodate some requests, and others they do not.

One request they will not honor this year comes from a resident who wanted her child’s bus stop changed.

Resident Carol Thomas spoke up at a recent school board meeting and asked that her neighborhood bus stop be changed so her child, and others on her street, would not have to walk past the home of a sex offender.

“None of us will allow our kids to walk past the sex offender’s house,” Thomas said.

Thomas said she raised the same question last year, to no avail. She said she is just trying to be safe and proactive.

School officials said they listen to parents’ requests for bus stop changes, and make accommodations when they can.

But so far, they aren’t ready to reroute bus stops if there’s a registered sex offender in the way because, with 34 Milford people on the sex offender list, they said changes would be hard to accommodate.

Milford Public Schools provides transportation to more than 5,000 students daily to 14 public schools, three parochial schools, three technical/vocational schools, and several out-of-district special education placements. There are about 1,400 school bus stops in Milford.

“In regard to requests for changes, we listen to each request and get back to each parent with a response,” said Assistant Superintendent Michael Cummings. “Sometimes an accommodation can be made, but in no way can we accommodate every request. Many factors go into the determination of bus stops, and movement of a stop can be more challenging than most realize.”

Chief Operations Officer James Richetelli Jr. said his office received 189 calls last year with questions about bus routes. Some were routine questions, or parents pointing out errors the computer program that produces the bus routes didn’t catch. Many were parents requesting a change to the bus stop.

“We can honor some requests for changes, but others we can’t,” Richetelli said.

Administrators have gotten calls from parents in the past concerned about sex offenders on their child’s route. Richetelli said they look into each situation and decide if a change must be made. But he said there are too many registered offenders scattered across the city to simply plot pickups around them all. He added that the school website at milforded.org links to the sex offender registry so parents can be aware of the people in their neighborhoods who are on the list.

Another parent spoke up at last week’s school board meeting and asked that her daughter’s bus stop be moved so she doesn’t have to walk 2.1 miles down a busy street twice a day.

Lisa Dipasquale said her daughter will attend the Trumbull Agri-Science program and will have to walk on Wheelers Farms Road to get to the firehouse, where the bus stops at 6:06 a.m. She said she can drive her daughter to the bus stop in the morning, but because she works, she can’t pick her up after school and drive her home.

“I was appalled when I got the letter about the bus stop,” Dipasquale said, noting that her daughter was picked up in front of the house last year. “I have to worry about her every day, and that’s a huge concern for me. This is not a road you want to walk on.”

That request probably won’t be honored either. Richetelli said changes to the agri-science bus schedule were made in order to cut $200,000 from the transportation budget, at the direction of the school board. Individual pickups were consolidated by creating five pickup spots around the city, he said.

Safety, however, is paramount as the bus routes are compiled, Richetelli said.

School starts in Milford Aug. 29, and Richetelli said residents should remember to stop when they see the flashing lights on a bus. Cars are mandated by law to stop 10 feet away, even if the bus is on a busy, multi-lane road, like the Boston Post Road.

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