Parents in one Florida town are complaining about a school bus stop that is directly in front of a home where multiple sex offenders live.
The home is located in Middleburg, where a Clay County School District bus picks up and drops off elementary, middle and high school students each day.
“Something needs to be done. They don’t need to be living that close to kids,” one neighbor said.
Devon Ray is a registered sexual predator. He was convicted of sexual battery on a child who was 12 years old or younger in 2012.
According to Department of Corrections records, he served less than a year in state prison. The state has him registered to the Middleburg home in question just this month.
Johnny Cole is a registered sex offender whose listed address is also the Middleburg home. Cole was convicted of molesting a child who was between 12 and 15 years old in 2013.
Cole is currently in the Clay County Jail. His arrest warrant said he violated his probation by visiting a school, a park and a Chuck E. Cheese.
Parents were shocked to learn both offenders are legally permitted to live there.
State law prohibits sex predators and offenders who are on conditional release from living within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop.
But Ray and Cole aren’t on conditional release; they’re on probation.
State law does not explicitly prohibit sex offenders and predators who are on probation from living near a school bus stop, although it does prohibit them from living within 1,000 feet of “where children regularly congregate.”
A look at Ray’s conditions of supervision documents for his probation confirms that school bus stops are not included in his restrictions.
“Nobody wants a sexual predator living near them and their children,” said state Sen. Audrey Gibson.
Gibson said the “where children regularly congregate” portion of the law gives judges the opportunity to decide what conditions are necessary for an offender on a case-by-case basis.
“I am certainly always in favor of judicial discretion, which is why we have judges in the first place,” said Gibson.
That may be little consolation for nervous parents.
“There has to be some way in the system we can fix this,” said a neighbor. “This is definitely a flaw.”
A spokesperson for the Clay County School District said parents who want the bus stop moved should contact the transportation office. She also said parents are responsible for supervising their kids until the school bus pulls up.
Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.