Searcy Trying to Keep Parolees Away from Students

SEARCY, Ark. (AP) - When school children walk across the parking lot of Ahlf Junior High School in Searcy, some days they are only steps away from recent parolees.

Only 50 feet separate the parking lots of the school and the local office of the Arkansas Department of Community Corrections, which provides parole and probation services.

Rhonda Sharp, spokesman for the department, says there had been no incidents of parolees harassing the students. However, Sharp says one father was concerned about some parolees waiting for the office to open at 8 a.m. as children walked by for class.

The office, run by manager Elizabeth Taylor, now staffs an officer early in the morning in case a parolee shows up before the office opens.

Bill Dunaway, principal at Ahlf Junior High School, says some sex offenders who live near the school were recognized by his staff over a year ago and he is aware of the situation.

A Searcy police officer works the school crossing in the morning and evenings on Gum Street, on the opposite side of the school as the parole office.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)