Mitch McCoy and Kevin S. Held
ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – From running through crosswalks to speeding cars by kids walking and biking to school, parents are calling for an immediate change before someone is hurt.
Josh Waltz said some of the dangers started this school year when the Francis Howell School District implemented a new boundary policy.
Students living within a mile of the district are not eligible for transportation. The district said the primary reason for the change is that there’s a shortage of bus drivers.
Waltz rides a bicycle with his 11-year-old daughter to Francis Howell Middle School every morning and afternoon.
“The bus does stop in front of our house, but she’s not allowed to ride it,” Waltz said. “We’ve been told my house is too close to the school.”
Need for speed in school zone
Along the one-mile stretch of O’Fallon Road, cars zip by like they’re not in a school zone.
The speed limit is 20 miles per hour in the school zone, but our camera spotted the yellow flashing light that should be alerting drivers to a reduced speed not activated.
The FOX Files immediately reached out to the St. Charles County government regarding the sign and someone from the highway department responded within hours to fix it.
“Crews on the scene have determined the signs are working, but only needed to be reprogrammed to align with the school’s recent change in schedule,” county spokesman Kevin Killeen wrote. “The Highway Department appreciates the public’s help to notify them of the problem. Keeping our roads safe for all is a top priority of the St. Charles County Highway Department.”
There’s another problem, though: something Waltz found online.
“There’s several registered sex offenders that live along the route to the school,” Waltz said.
According to Missouri’s sex offender registry, six sex offenders live in two different neighborhoods that Waltz’s daughter rides past twice a day.
Chaos at Crosswalk
Closer to the classroom, parents call the crosswalk chaos.
Our camera captured a middle schooler crossing one direction of traffic but briefly getting stuck in the median. A truck kept driving through, not allowing the child to pass. The student eventually traveled to the other side safely.
Chris Bahl said his 12-year-old son is autistic and has to walk to school now.
“Concerns for his safety, focus, walking to school and the challenges of the social part of that,” Bahl said.
Francis Howell School District Chief Communications Officer Jennifer Jolls said there’s no dedicated crossing guard.
“Our school principals monitor the crosswalk nearest the school entrance each day during dismissal,” Jolls said. “Sidewalks are available along O’Fallon Road, it’s well lit, and there are stop lights at major intersections.”
Jolls said responsibility also falls on parents.
“As we have communicated to parents, student safety is a shared responsibility, and we always encourage families to use their best judgment in determining how their child gets safely to and from school each day,” Jolls said.
Jolls said the district has not asked parents to volunteer to monitor crosswalks in an official capacity, but parents are welcome and encouraged to walk with their children to school.