Augusta, GA — A mother’s concerns about how her children get to and from school led to a Richmond County, GA Board of Education investigation less than one week after the start of school.
A school bus stop in west Augusta, not far from Riverwatch Parkway and Stevens Creek Road, takes kids to three different Richmond County schools. But, one mother tells me, she’s putting her kids in her own car after learning the truth about someone who lives nearby.
“You’re literally setting my kids in front of a sex offender’s house, so close to where I can see their front door,” said Nicole Lewis, a parent.
A quick check online of where the school bus would pick up and drop off this mother’s children changed everything.
“I’m taking them to and from school until they can give me a reason why I should trust them. I’m coming late to work,” Lewis explained.
Nicole Lewis moved to Augusta from California three years ago with four kids. Two attend Warren Road Elementary School and two others are at Tutt Middle School. They get there after being picked up from the driveway of a man with a past.
“They said it wasn’t their responsibility to let anybody know,” she tells News Channel 6 of her conversation with the Board of Education Transportation.
A registered sex offender lives in a home less than 200 feet from the bus stop on Dennis Road and Parker Street. Neighbors said that Dennis Road can be busy in the morning. While the registered sex offender is within eyeshot of the students at the bus stop, he’s not breaking any laws.
District 22 Georgia State Senator Harold Jones tells us the sex offender has every right to live in the home he was already in before the district created the bus stop. He explained how a 2007 Georgia Supreme Court Ruling reads that moving a sex offender from his or her home is unlawful unless they are compensated.
“Unless the school district is going to designate bus stops [such as] these are our set bus stops, no doubt about it, then you cannot force a person to move because they wouldn’t know where the bus stops are going to be each year,” he said.
Lewis said the district needs to notify parents that they do not check for sex offenders when setting the bus schedule.
“Over a year this has been going on, but how many others?”
Richmond County BOE is still investigating the bus stop, but Richmond County School System (RCSS) Communications and Community Engagement Manager Kaden Jacobs issued the following statement:
When there are parental concerns about the location of bus stops, once made aware, we have a process we follow, to include consideration of applicable laws, to determine the appropriateness of the stop. In the event a bus stop needs to be relocated for safety, or other concerns, we make adjustments accordingly.