Bishop McDevitt High School's new location in Lower Paxton Township sits on 80 acres of expansive farm land -- a beautiful, state-of-the-art high school. However, the road leading up to it is anything but.
"There are no houses around and it's through the woods," parent Vicki Breski said.
Breski's twin daughters just started 9th grade at McDevitt this week after transferring from Central Dauphin East High School. But instead of catching a bus, her home district, which by law is responsible for transporting to private school, told her she lives too close and her daughters must walk. Breski said this would not be a problem, except the route is extremely unsafe.
"I know of people who hunt back there. There are deer and coyote, and there's no sidewalks for safety," Breski said. "Once the leaves grow on the trees, they won't even be able to see through the woods, and I know there are several predators living in this area."
The main issue with the route, Breski said, is that the majority runs along an abandoned portion of Spring Creek Road that McDevitt purchased with the school property.
"I get scared that it's going to be my daughters next -- you know, things are happening in this area all the time and I just don't want to have to be at work worrying about the safety of my children," she said.
Breski voiced her safety concerns to the Central Dauphin School District, but was told because she lives within a 1.5-mile radius of the school, the district is bound by state law.
"The issue isn't about the children's safety -- the issue is whether or not they're going to get reimbursed," community watchdog Eric Epstein said. "That's sad. I mean, has it gotten that bad?"
Epstein also represents Central Dauphin bus drivers, and is familiar with the state law that allows public schools to be reimbursed for transportation. He said with a McDevitt bus stop just two blocks from Breski's home, the solution here is a 'no-brainer.'
"Look, be flexible." he said. "You have you the ability to have discretionary policy here --- I don't get it."
"I think we're looking at a moral issue here -- we're looking at the safety of our children versus the school district getting reimbursed a couple of dollars," Breski said.
Below is a statement from Central Dauphin School District spokesperson Shannon Leib:
Bishop McDevitt High School has always had a walker zone. With the recent relocation of the high school, this walker zone now affects different students. The state standards have allowed students from Harrisburg, Penbrook and Susquehanna Township to walk to the former Market Street location.
We have over 700 walkers district-wide, ranging in age from Kindergarten through 12th grade and we must apply consistent standards that are acceptable to the Department of Education as well as the Department of Transportation.
A section of Spring Creek Road was given to Bishop McDevitt High School and is now under the authority and control of the school and has been designated a non-public road. The part of Spring Creek Road students would be walking on is a dead-end road servicing one home. It is not a level of personal service offered to any of our other Kindergarten through 12th Grade students currently residing within walk zones.
In an email to abc27, Leib also said, "the district is still evaluating and assessing transportation routes as to the school's new location off of Spring Creek Road as of January 7, 2013."