Mayport mother driven to make daughter's walk to school safe

Lori Culvert says daughter must cross a dangerous intersection 5 days a week

By Kelly Wiley - I-TEAM reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Mayport mother is fighting to make her daughter's walk to school safer.

Lori Culvert said her daughter must cross the intersection at Wonderwood Connector and A1A five days a week to get to Mayport Middle when school starts Aug. 12.

It’s the same intersection where 12-year-old Hunter Allen Cope was struck and killed by an SUV while walking to school in 2017. Police said the vehicle continued through a yellow light at the intersection, hitting one of five kids who were walking together.

A sign placed on the shoulder of A1A at Wonderwood urges drivers to be safe in his honor.

Two years later, Mayport parent Culvert fears the same could happen to her daughter walking to Mayport Middle School. Culvert showed News4Jax the six lanes of traffic her daughter crosses in the first part of her walk from their apartment to the middle school.

“I don’t have a job that allows me to get to work at 7:30 in the morning, leave, go pick her up, take her to school, leave again at 4:15 to pick her up,” said Culvert. “I can’t imagine sitting at work every day, just wondering if she made it to school ok. That just haunts me.”

She sent emails to the school district and eventually Mayor Lenny Curry asking for a bus stop or a crossing guard be added to the crossing at Wonderwood and A1A, but she was told by the school district that her daughter lives too close to the school for a bus stop.

Duval County Public Schools policy is to not add bus stops within a mile-and-a-half of the school, which is shorter than the two-mile cutoff required by Florida law for students walking to school.

“There is a bus that goes right by our apartment complex that would save people from having to go across this intersection,” said Culvert.

News4Jax asked DCPS about exceptions to the bus stop policy and placing crossing guards at the intersection. In response, DCPS said the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office runs the crossing guard program.

“I just want a safe place for our children to cross. The school bus stop takes two minutes,” said Culvert. “I kind of feel like I’m getting the run-around, the easy answers.”

In a statement, Duval County Schools told News4Jax:

“District leadership have spoken with the constituent to discuss her concerns and have ensured they be included on the agenda for discussion at the September 10th City of Jacksonville’s School Safety Committee meeting.”

Culvert says she is concerned about the month between school starting Aug. 12, and the meeting scheduled for Sept. 12.  

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