CHICAGO (AP) — The vast majority of the walking routes Chicago Public School officials set up for children going to new schools after around 50 were closed are located near registered sex offenders, according to a report published Sunday.
Forty-eight of the 53 so-called Safe Passage routes are within roughly a block of people who are in the Illinois State Police sex offender registry, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
There are about 2,700 sex offenders in Chicago who are registered, and roughly 10 percent live near safe passage routes.
The nation's third-largest school district closed the schools with the hopes of improving academic performance and saving millions of dollars. Roughly 12,000 of the district's approximately 400,000 students have been affected by the closures. The district came up with the routes — which were approved by Chicago police — to address parent and community concerns for children's safety. Some were worried about children having to cross gang lines, for example.
School officials and authorities said the routes were carefully reviewed.
Chicago police spokesman Adam Collins said "officers visited every sex offender who was on or near a route to make sure they were in compliance with the law. And where they weren't, alerts were issued and arrests would be made."
The newspaper, which analyzed the routes against the registry, found that eight offenders live nearly one school on the city's North Side, including three in the same building.
"If there is that many, you think they would have taken that into consideration," Misty Lofton, a parent who walks her children to school, told the newspaper.
Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Becky Carroll said school and police officials took a "holistic approach" to routes. The idea was to keep children on main streets as much as possible, where there was heavy foot traffic. The district has also hired workers who stand guard while children are walking to and from work.