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Waukesha parents worry their children's walk to school is dangerous

WAUKESHA, WIS (CBS 58) -- Some Waukesha parents are worried about sending their children to school this week. Why? They believe the route their children are supposed to walk to school is dangerous.

Families on Pebble Valley Road live too close to school to be on the bus route.

For the last month, Lydia Lara says she's brought concerns to the district transportation director, school board, and DPI. On Monday she brought her concerns to the deputy superintendent and to CBS 58.

"The route is a huge problem," said Lara.

Lara's 5-year-old is one of the students set to take the route to Summit View Elementary. Her parents have to work and she's worried she will get lost.

"We can't remember that," she said. "Correct, you can't remember that. It's really hard for you!" responded Lara.

The school district sent Lara a map of the suggested 1.2-mile route. It includes 10 turns. The route replaces a simpler one on busier streets, but Lara says there are still safety concerns with the new route because it still takes her elementary school children through construction, uncontrolled intersections, and busy streets.

"They're not willing to give at all on the matter and that's a huge concern for me especially when these are the people I'm entrusting to teach my children from K to 12," said Lara.

The district did offer Lara and her family an opportunity to pay for a bus program if there are seats available. She says the kids would still have to walk seven blocks to that stop.

Lara isn't alone, her neighbors say they wanted this change a long time ago.

"Walk a mile in my child's shoes because children do have fear. We can tell them what to do what route to take but kids they don't stay focused like that," said Cari Gilbert.

Her middle schooler is set to walk every day, but she rearranged her work schedule to drive him.

The school district did go through the process to figure out what streets are too dangerous to walk on. The Waukesha Sheriff's Department helped with the study in 2013.

The School District of Waukesha Deputy Superintendent Joe Koch sent CBS 58 this statement: 

"The School District of Waukesha places student safety as our top priority. We evaluate all bus routes annually for ridership and for safety and we look into all concerns brought forward by our families. We work closely with the City of Waukesha and the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department to monitor intersections and conduct safety studies as appropriate. When routes are deemed unusually hazardous by the Sheriff's Department, we look for options to ensure student safety, including bus routes and adding crossing guards."

Koch says he will be at a regularly scheduled transportation meeting tomorrow to finalize bus and walking routes. He says the route from Pebble Valley to Summit View is set to have a crossing guard this year. Lara says that's not enough.

"Not unless they're planning to put crossing guards in the middle of the subdivision to help the kids and say, 'hey kids this way, your five other turns are two more lefts and a right' because it doesn't make sense."

If families and the district can't come to a consensus, the DPI has an appeal process to prove the route is "unusually hazardous."

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