Gate debate gets two-week extension - FOX 13 News

Gate debate gets two-week extension

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A sign at the back gate of the Brookridge subdivision said it all: The back gate would be permanently locked on October 1. Monday morning, though, the students who walk through it to get to school got a pleasant surprise -- it was still open. 

A new signed announced the gate would be locked for good on October 15.

"I think it's ridiculous," Brookridge resident Jenny Peasch said.

The gate separates the neighborhood from three schools. Students who live in Brookridge walk through the gate to the schools. Locking it would force them to walk around the neighborhood.

"The kids should have the right to walk through and not take the risk of walking on State Road 50 and getting killed," Peasch said.

According to letters obtained by FOX 13, the Brookridge board complained of security risks posed by the kids. Now parents say they have an attorney who may fight the planned gate closing.

"[The board] didn't think anybody was going to make a big deal and everybody did. Now they don't know what to do with themselves," said parent and resident James Smith.

Board president Ray Starr did not return FOX 13 phone calls. In a news release, the board complained, "...the School District, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office and the School District's Transportation Department have been totally unresponsive."

"I'm not sure what they're talking about," sheriff's office spokeswoman Denise Maloney said. "We've been in constant contact with them. We've attended their board meetings."

Superintendent Bryan Blavatt agreed, saying the school district has offered to help the neighborhood with security.

"We have people available that could, in fact, assure no one would be to come into the gate, into the community, other than the students," he said.

Blavatt suggested the decision was made to lock the gate long before either parents, the school district or sheriff were contacted.

"Basically, they made up their mind."

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