SPRINGFIELD – Students would no longer have to walk through violent neighborhoods to get to school under a proposal recently introduced by state Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville.
“One and a half miles is a long way for a kid to walk on a dangerous street. How can you expect students to be excited about school if they have to walk through neighborhoods where shootings and muggings are sadly standard?” Clayborne said.
The measure has been assigned to committee in the Senate but not yet been scheduled for debate.
State law requires school districts to provide transportation for students who live farther than 1.5 miles away from a school. However, schools must also provide transportation to students who live within that radius but are endangered by traffic or rail crossings, which create serious safety hazards.
Clayborne’s proposal, Senate Bill 52, would add the significant risk of violent crime to the existing list of serious safety hazards. Clayborne’s district includes East St. Louis, among other communities.
For their students to get this transportation, parents and guardians must petition their school board. The board must then study and report on the safety of the area, and those findings must be verified by the Illinois State Police.
Under SB 52 and the existing law, school districts aren’t required to provide transportation if adequate public transportation is available and safe for students to access.
“This isn’t just a Chicago issue. Students in communities across this state deserve to be safe,” Clayborne said.