Shortage of crossing guards has Seattle students dodging traffic

SEATTLE -- From one end of Seattle to the other, children are being forced to dodge traffic while crossing busy intersections, and it's all because the school district hasn't hired enough crossing guards.

The KOMO Problem Solvers discovered nearly two dozen intersections near schools with no crossing guards to guide kids.

One intersection outside of a West Seattle school has no stop sign and only a yield sign for north/south drivers. KOMO cameras caught dozens of kids crossing by themselves in all directions.

Local parents are now trying to help their kids across the intersections, but sometimes the drivers don't cooperate.

"They speed through here and then nobody stops, nobody sees kids," said parent Ashley Roos.

Like other parents across the city, Roos wants to make sure local children are safe.

"The school needs to get some crossing guards here," she said. "This is a very busy street. It's dangerous for the kids."

Acting on a tip, the Problem Solvers found 21 critical intersections in the Seattle School District that are currently without crossing guards because the district hasn't filled the positions.

"What I'm told is that the north end is a very tough spot to find people who are willing to work two hours a day, early in the morning, late in the afternoon." said Teresa Wippel of Seattle Public Schools.

But the list of schools still in need of crossing guards extends well beyond the north end. At least 13 schools are in need of guards, and Stevens Elementary in Capitol Hill needs four.

Wippel said the district was hampered by a hiring freeze.

"We were able to get the freeze lifted to be able to fill those positions, but what it meant is that we were a little behind in trying to fill some of those spots," she said.

Parents think the district should have made it a priority to hire crossing guards before school started.

"It seems like it should be a position that needs to be filled," said parent Eric Schwartz.

Many also wonder why the district doesn't assign staff or substitute teachers as temporary guards until permanent ones are hired.

"They have to be trained," Wippel said. "It's a liability issue if we just send anybody out there."

The district doesn't advertise for crossing guards, and people who want the job have to apply at district headquarters.

The schools and areas in need of crossing guards are: BF Day, Greenwood, Viewlands, John Stanford, McDonald, Stevens, McGilvra, Catharine Blaine, Hawthorne, John Muir, Bailey Gatzert, T Marshall and Highland Park.
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