District suggests student walk by sex offenders' homes - FOX 13 News

District suggests student walk by sex offenders' homes

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Dawn Mencarini works nights as a nurse and is resigned to her unexpected daytime duties as mother.

"I'll just continue to drive my son to school, back and forth," she told FOX 13 News, referring to her 11-year old son, Alex.

The alternative: Let him walk 1.5 miles to Oak Grove Middle School, a distance that disqualifies him from school bus transportation.

The Pinellas school system identified the walking route, which utilizes the Pinellas Trail. Several apartment buildings bordering the portion of the trail Alex would traverse house 48 registered sexual offenders and predators, many of them convicted of crimes against children under age 12.

Mencarnini admits she is not aware of any transgressions in her neighborhood, but, "seeing children go by, by themselves, going to school every day at a specific time, temptation is there."

She voiced her concerns to Pinellas school system transportation officials, who reportedly considered the issues at a safety committee meeting. The conclusion: "In this situation there was nothing that can be done," spokesperson Melanie Marquez Parra said, adding the proximity of sexual offenders and predators to a walking route is not addressed by school board policy.

"That's not something that could lead to school bus transportation because of the number of students in the county and because of the number of walk routes," she explained. "It wouldn't be feasible."

Mencarini said, even without the sexual offenders, she does not allow her son to use the Pinellas Trail.

"I don't find it a safe route anyway," she said, "There are people that live on the trail, there are people that sleep on the trail, they drink on the trail."

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