Aug 24, 2021 - News

Des Moines' school crossing guard snafu

A man in a neon yellow vest holds up a stop sign in front of a school bus.

Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

There's a scramble to hire school crossing guards in Des Moines after district officials discovered last week the positions weren't filled due to an administrative hiccup, a police spokesperson told Axios.

Why it matters: Uh, duh. Don't we all want our kids to make it home safely?

What's happening: Key Des Moines Public Schools staffers were unaware until recently that crossing guard management had been passed to the district starting this school year, Sgt. Paul Parizek said.

  • So the Des Moines Police Department "pitched in," agreeing last week to extend its previous contract with a private company that had helped staff crossing guards in past years, he said.

Context: Prior to this school year, Des Moines police and the school district co-coordinated the crossing guard program, sharing its costs.

  • They also worked together on a separate school resource officer (SRO) program that stationed cops in district buildings, but DMPS decided earlier this year to end the initiative.
  • Crossing guard responsibilities were to be transferred entirely to the district as part of last year's SRO decision. But now, the district will take on managing the positions starting in the 2022-23 school year.

Of note: District officials didn't respond to inquiries about the crossing guards Monday.

By the numbers: Typically, 30-40 crossing guards work at about two dozen Des Moines elementary schools. Most work an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.

  • It was unknown how many had been hired, as of Monday.

The bottom line: Don't worry. There will be crossing guards even if the scramble to hire them is not completed by Wednesday's school year start.

  • Parking meter checkers and cadets will temporarily fill the positions if necessary, Parizek said. (He volunteered himself as well.)

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