BRACKLEY, P.E.I. - The Public Schools Branch (PSB) is endangering a student by continuing to have a bus stop in front of a convicted sex offender’s home, say some Brackley Beach parents.
Meanwhile, the PSB director says he wants to work with parents to resolve the issue, but it’s complicated by the fact the student lives on a private road.
Kerri Kelly’s 10-year-old son has to catch the bus on MacAskill Crescent, just outside Don Ernst Harley’s home.
The Kellys live about 300 metres away from the bus stop on Pine Street.
Kelly said she contacted the PSB last year but is raising the issue again after the man was sentenced last week to house arrest following another conviction – this time for sexual assault.
She said she’s no closer to getting a resolution.
“The mandate of the Public Schools Branch is ensuring kids’ safety, and I’m presenting them with a major concern … but they won’t (change the location),” said Kelly, noting there are no street lights, so her son is waiting in the dark, and that the stop is out of sight from her house.
“They’re asking for something to happen.”
Director Parker Grimmer said the PSB wants to resolve the issue, which the private road makes more complicated.
“That’s a real problem for us because there’s legislation that doesn’t allow us to access these roads,” said Grimmer, adding that the man’s recent conviction is new information the PSB has to take into consideration.
“Student safety is really important to us, there are some challenges and it takes a little time… We appreciate there’s a wish for a quick decision, but we’re working on it.”
Kelly said she first raised the issue about a year ago. Previously, she felt her child was safe because an older student also used the bus stop. And while on maternity leave, she was able to wait with her son for the bus.
However, she said the bus previously went down their road until a resident, who has since moved, complained.
While Grimmer confirmed the previous route, he was unsure whether the PSB realized it was a private road at the time.
“There was a complaint so that may have been what created that change,” said Grimmer.
Grimmer said the Education Act states the education authority designates pick-up and drop-off points for students.
He said there is also an expectation for parents and caregivers to partner with the PSB to make sure students get to school safely.
“We’re prepared to try and find a way,” said Grimmer.
Kelly said any proposed solutions have not worked out and said she was told the PSB would “see what we can do, but it probably won’t be what you want.”
One of the solutions was to move the stop down the road, but Kelly said it would be a kilometre further away from the home and her son would still have to walk by the house.
She said she can also not wait at the bus stop because of her job and that childcare was not an option.
Kelly said, apart from it being a private road, she was told residents on the street have an issue with the bus travelling down the road and that there is no safe place for the bus to turn around.
She rejected those two reasons and said there is a place to turn. She also collected signatures of the other residents saying they don’t have a problem with the bus using the road.
The Guardian spoke to another parent on the street who signed the petition. While they drive their child to school, they also relayed concerns about the stop and said safety should be the top priority.
“There was one person that called and complained, but they no longer live here,” said Kelly, adding that waiting with her son for the bus has affected her job. “Not only are they putting me in risk of financial hardship but they’re endangering a child.”