Imagine your child’s school bus stop being located at the home of a registered sex offender. This scenario has become a reality for one mother who reached out to WINK News for help.
The mother, who wants to remain anonymous for her safety, said her child’s designated bus stop on Fordham St. in Fort Myers happens to share an address with a registered sex offender. WINK News later verified her claim through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s online registry.
Ultimately, the mother is urging Lee County Schools to take action. Her plea is clear: move the bus stop further along the road to prioritize the well-being of her child and others. She mentioned that the registered sex offender consistently appears when the children gather at the bus stop in the morning and afternoon. She said she reached out to the district, but wasn’t satisfied with their response.
According to mom, here’s what the director of Transportation Services for the South Zone told her via email.
“I appreciate you bringing this matter to my attention. We have examined your request. We are required to relocate stops for violent sexual predators, not sex offenders. Our routers often check addresses with Dept. of Corrections when they are placing released predators for the 1,000 feet compliance. We are unable to process your request.”
WINK News also reached out to Lee County Schools, and obtained additional information that could be alarming to parents along Fordham St.
“We are not required to move bus stops for sexual offenders. The number of sexual offenders in this neighborhood does not allow us to move this stop to a location more than 1,000 feet from one of their homes. We are only required to move stops for violent sexual predators, and there are only three of those in Lee County. As a reminder, parents are responsible for the safety of their children until they board the bus in the morning and once they get off the bus in the afternoon.”
In Florida, there is not a law that prevents “released” sexual offenders or predators from living near places like bus stops, schools, playgrounds, or daycares. However, there is a statute, Florida Statute 775.215, entitled, “Residency restriction for persons convicted of certain sex offenses,” which directs, in part, that certain individuals convicted of certain sexual crimes cannot reside within 1,000 feet of any school, day care center, park, or playground. For additional details, please see Florida Statute 775.215.
In this instance, the statute could apply to the bus stop on Fordham St. where the registered sex offender lives. Records indicate he was convicted of indecent assault and battery on a person aged fourteen or older, which typically involves inappropriate physical contact. However, since we lack information about the exact crime and child’s age, it’s not clear whether the sex offender is breaking the 1,000-feet rule.
Sexual offenders or predators who are still serving sanctions, such as probation, parole, or community control under the Florida Department of Corrections, are required to follow the “Conditions of Supervision” as ordered by a judge in accordance with Florida Statute.
Additionally, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there may be municipal and/or county ordinances in your area regarding certain sexual offenders/predators which may restrict where they reside or live.
At the end of the day, mom said she isn’t concerned about the legalities. She simply doesn’t want her child, or any others, near this sex offender on a daily basis. She wants Lee County Schools to help find a solution.
Mother also told WINK News that the sex offender boarded the school bus recently. However, a representative with Lee County Schools told us that no unauthorized person has boarded a bus at this stop.