Archive for Thursday, February 8, 2001

School crossing guard dropped because school district lacks authority to control traffic

February 8, 2001

After the Basehor-Linwood School District made the decision to remove the crossing guards from the 155th Street and Leavenworth Road area, Basehor resident Brenda Hooks volunteered for the job.

Hooks helped children cross the streets from April until the end of last year. However, her busy schedule has forced her to stop, leaving teachers to help children cross the intersections.

Since March of last year, there have not been regular school crossing guards working the crosswalks at 155th Terrace and Leavenworth Road, or at the corner of 155th Street and Leavenworth Road.

Hooks wants the city or school district to place part-time crossing guards at the intersections before and after school.

Basehor-Linwood Director of Operations Don Swartz said the decision to remove the crossing guard was a matter of liability, and it is now a city issue.

"The reason it was taken away was that our attorney said that we were absolutely not to do it anymore," Swartz said. "He said we have no authority to control traffic on a city street and we put ourselves in a very precarious liability issue by doing that. So we notified the city we were not going to do it anymore."

Mayor John Pfannenstiel said the situation has been reviewed, and the city will take no further action.

"We have looked at the situation," he said. "Since the school district has no authority to direct traffic on a city street and the city is not obliged to provide crossing guards, we looked at if there was a need for it."

Pfannenstiel and Police Chief Vince Weston have monitored the crosswalk conditions after school.

"I have been up there and observed it myself and the chief has been up there and monitored it as well. The situation seems to be very orderly. The school district is handling it in a responsible way," Pfannenstiel said.

Pfannenstiel said the school now has a teacher escort a group of students to the first crossing and make sure children do not walk in front of oncoming traffic.

"The staff members do not make any actions to stop traffic, but when motorists see them standing next to the crosswalk they stop," Pfannenstiel said.

Hooks said she thinks the current situation is dangerous.

"I have seen several children almost get hit by oncoming cars at the crosswalk," Hooks said. "Having a crossing guard would eliminate that risk of danger."

Hooks said that this year her schedule did not allow her to carry out crossing-guard duties, but she would still like to see a crossing guard before and after school.

"They asked me at the beginning of the year, but my schedule was not to where I could continue to do it," Hooks said.

Hooks wants to hear from concerned parents and will be developing a joint committee to work with the school district and the city to come up with a solution to the crossing guard situation.

For comments or questions, you may reach Brenda Hooks at 724-3093 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

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