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Charter schools fight for school zone student safety measures

Nov 8, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: 6:09 pm

SOUTH JORDAN — Several charter schools feel like they are being ignored when it comes to school safety. Administrators say their schools are being denied school zone” designation which would allow for flashing lights, slower speed signs, crosswalks, and crossing guards.         

One of those schools is Hawthorn Academy in South Jordan which sits right along a very busy 11400 South at 1437 West.

Twice a day like clockwork before and after school hundreds of kids and hundreds of cars pull up to drop off or pick up students at school.

Principal Jeremy Craig said during these times he has one thing on his mind, “making sure my kids are safe.”

That’s why for years he’s been trying to have the area in front of his school designated as a “school zone” which would allow for more safety measures.

“Crossing guards, flashing lights, pathways to cross with the yellow lines,” Craig said. “It’s really been the last six or seven years.”

Bonneville Academy in Tooele County is asking for the same.

“We’ve been fighting for us to have a reduction in speed signs, or a school zone crosswalk, a crossing guard, anything that can help get our school safer,” Corrie Norman, the co-chair for the board of directors for Bonneville Academy said. 

Just last week at a busy intersection in front of the school a mom and her son were hit by an SUV. “This is something we have been fearing for a very long time because we are in a high-risk intersection,” Norman said.

Just around the corner from Hawthorn Academy on 1300 West is South Jordan Elementary School which does have flashing yellow lights, reduced speed signs a crosswalk, and crossing guards. 

That’s why some charter schools feel like they are being ignored and the public schools get special treatment.

“There shouldn’t be a difference when it comes to student safety. We don’t understand the difference,” Norman said.

The city of South Jordan said it has been working with Hawthorn Academy to increase safety measures. Including painting curbing red to discourage parking along 11400 South and increase patrols.

But the city said the Utah Department of Transportation would have to make changes along 11400 South since that’s a major thoroughfare to the freeway.

UDOT officials tell KSL TV that there is no preferential treatment between schools and that everyone must meet the same requirements for flashing lights, reduced speeds, and crossing guards. UDOT said most of the time charter schools do not have as many kids walking to school, but the majority are driven to school.

Tooele County said it is now in the process of conducting a study in front of Bonneville Academy to see if it qualifies for a school zone.

Craig says it’s a complicated process that requires several government agencies working together to try and get things approved.

A back-and-forth tug of war of who really is going to make sure these kids are safe,” he said.

This story is part of an ongoing KSL TV initiative called “Stop for Students”. We encourage all Utahns to share their stories and solutions as we work together to prevent more pedestrian tragedies in our state. Show your support and spread the word by requesting a decal of your own.  

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Charter schools fight for school zone student safety measures