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Mother concern about children walking to school

A Columbia mother says her children’s walk to school is dangerous and wants a school bus to pick them up.

The family doesn’t qualify, because it lives less than a mile away from the elementary school.

On Thursday, Stephany Vasquez says the route her 9- and 10-year-olds walk to school every day is treacherous, sometimes crossing four-lane roadways with no crosswalks or walking in the street because there are no sidewalks.

Vasquez lives off 8th Street in Columbia; 0.9 miles from Benton Elementary school.

That missing tenth of a mile is the problem.

“Any kid from kindergarten to 5th grade deserves a safe ride to school. Plain and simple. They don’t deserve to be walking through hazardous neighborhoods or worrying about someone picking them up,” said Vasquez.

Columbia school Superintendent Chris Belcher says Missouri law states a school bus can only pick up kids living a mile or more from school.

He says the district is looking at whether Vasquez’s children might qualify for an exception for an unsafe route.

The walk takes about 20 minutes, with hazards such as no sidewalks, railroad tracks, homeless shelters and smoke shops.

“I’m a concerned parent, and I am that concerned voice for everybody. I know that we are low-income families and might be nobody to everybody else, but we are somebody’s parent,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez is rallying other parents to support her cause and reaching out to school officials in the process.

She hasn’t had a chance to speak with Columbia’s superintendent yet.

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