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2 Investigators: Safe Passage Routes Lead Kids Past Sex Offender Shelters

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Questions tonight about two Chicago Public School safe passage routes and whether children are being put in harm's way. CBS 2's Dave Savini investigates routes having children walk right by shelters with sex offenders.

On the outside, an old church building appears safe. Children walk by it to go along a safe passage route to school. But this church is also a shelter for child sex offenders. Predators targeting the youngest of victims which worries parents like Lisa Jones.

"I didn't know that the sex offenders were there," said Jones whose eight-year-old daughter walks by this building, at 200 S. Sacramento, to go to school. I just thought that was just a shelter for the homeless and, wow, I did not know that."

CBS 2 found 65 child sex offenders registered at this shelter, yet Chicago Public School officials decided to start safe passage route on the same street.

Santiago Orlando is a shelter guest and says even he did not know about the sex offenders staying there.

"It's a lot of kids around here," said Orlando concerned about the school children.

The schools nearby are Faraday and Jensen elementary, John Calhoun and Marshall High School.

Also in the area, on the 2700 block of Harrison, is another shelter along a different safe passage route. It too has sex offenders using it as their registered address, along with other homeless folks suffering mental illness and addiction.

A director affiliated with both shelters, Cynthia Jones Northington says they were not told about the safe passage routes.

"We actually just saw the signs; that raised red flags for us," said Jones Northington. "So we have some tremendous concerns."

The safe passage signs led to Jones Northington asking how shelter guests will be impacted. She says she was told, "Sitting, standing, loitering could result in arrest."

So shelter officials made their own signs to warn clients to basically stay away during school hours.

It was during this time, CBS 2 found residents hanging out outside both buildings and in a nearby park.

"It's a dangerous place for the kids to be," said Lisa Jones who says she is not sure what to do about the safe passage route.

Shelter officials shifted schedules to better monitor clients leaving and entering their facility.

A CPS spokesman says there is only one registered sex offender staying at either shelter. Shelter officials say there are about fifty sex offenders.

In a statement to CBS 2, a CPS spokesman says, "In cases where there are overnight or transition shelters and homes, both the Department of Family Support Services and the Chicago Police Department worked in coordination with facility operators to be prepared for the launch of these safe passage routes."

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