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One Week In, Safe Passage Workers Quit, Corners Not Covered

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Just over a week into the new school year, CBS 2 has discovered some serious problems with the safe passage program, including street corners that are uncovered and, in one case, massive turnover of safe passage workers.

In one case in the Roseland neighborhood, half the safe passage workers quit last week alone.

On Tuesday morning, there were no safe passage workers at a designated spot at 119th and State streets.

The safe passage program was set up after the Chicago Public Schools closed nearly 50 schools, forcing hundreds of students to walk a new, and often dangerous route, to a new school this year.

Roseland resident Renee Jones said the workers were there when school first started, but they haven't been there since.

David Weatherall, a safe passage supervisor for American Enterprise, the vendor responsible for that route in Roseland, says that's not true.

Although he admits there's no assigned worker at that corner, but he says floaters cover the area.

When he was asked by CBS 2's Dorothy Tucker why nobody was at the corner at the assigned time on Tuesday, Weatherall could not provide an explanation.

Keeping every post manned every day is a challenge for the 18 safe passage vendors responsible for assigning the 1,200 workers.

Bob Jackson is a supervisor at Nehemiah Roseland Ceasefire, another group responsible for monitoring safe passage routes.

The agency lost half of its workers when 13 of the 26 quit the day after school started.

"Last week was a very hot week," he said. "A lot of people have health issues and were not ready to be out in the sun."

"Some called a half hour before the shift started. some just didn't return."

Weather may be one reason.

Supervisors say others find full-time, better paying jobs.

The organizers realize it's a job with high turnover, which is why they say they have reserves ready to fill in.

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