Fox 29 Investigates: School Crossing Guards

Fox 29 Investigates: School Crossing Guards

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PHILADELPHIA -

If you have children, you send them off to school every day expecting them to be safe, especially walking to and from school.

In Philadelphia, the city pays crossing guards about $50 a day to ensure the child's safety. But what happens when they don't show?

FOX 29's Jeff Cole investigates.

It's 3 p.m. and classes are ending at Roberto Clemente Middle School in North Philly.

Kids pour out of the building and cross a very busy five-point intersection at Second Street, Erie and Sedgely avenues.

It's barely organized chaos with youngsters dodging traffic: cars, trucks, buses and vehicles ignoring the no turn signs.

"It's very dangerous 'cause the cars are running wild, they're beating the lights, they have to look out for themselves, there's no one to look out for them, so it's dangerous all around," said father Hector Matias.

Someone is supposed to be looking out for them. School officials tell us crossing guards are assigned under police supervision at both Erie and Sedgely to help the kids before school, at lunch and after school.

On the four of the five days we looked, no one was there.

One day, we watched as a guard walked off while the kids were still crossing.

And there was this: while we were taking pictures to document how youngsters were having to navigate the traffic unsupervised, someone did call police to check what we were doing, not to guide the students.

"Most of the time there's a police officer that parks here, and that's the only crossing guard I see," father Joe Davila said.

And remember that day we did see a guard?

We saw one guard at the intersection during the busiest time, but she walked away while the kids were still crossing.

The crossing guard situation has led some Clemente parents to just pick up their kids themselves.

"I don't even let them walk. I rather just pick them up. It's safer, safer for them," said mother Rosa Nunez.

We reported what we found to police, the school and the school headquarters. And within hours, crossing guards were on the job.

It's unclear if they were new guards or the ones assigned to the crossings.

Here's what they told a FOX 29 News producer when asked if they're on the job every day.

"I'd rather not talk on camera, but yes, we were out here, excuse me. I don't want...(mumbles)."

But remember on four of the five days we looked there was no one there.

"It seems, as you've pointed, out there's been several days where they haven't been at the corners where they're supposed to be helping students cross this very busy intersection. So, we are looking into why they were absent those days," said Fernando Gallard, a school district spokesman.

On days when crossing guards don't show up, the local police district is supposed to send a cop to cover the busy intersection if they can spare an officer. However, we never saw that happen, and our repeated calls to the police district to learn why were not returned.

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