Parents concerned about Preschool's new neighbor - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Parents concerned about Preschool's new neighbor


Parents at a Downtown South Bend Daycare and PreSchool are upset. They're worried about who may be around when a new neighbor moves in to the building next door.  Several groups are moving in including the Special Victims Unit.  And it's the people that will be visiting that unit that has the parents worried.  Parents gathered together at the East Bank Learning Center Friday night to discuss the new neighbors.  Everyone at the meeting said they have no problem with them moving in but they do have a problem with the suspected child abusers coming in for interviews by the Special Victims Unit.  They want those interviews to be conducted off-site.

Parent Tania Bengtsson said, "I don't want them anywhere near my kids.  I don't want them anywhere near the school they need to be somewhere else."   And another parent Karen Bogol said, "I don't want someone who has hurt children coming in and out of this facility so close to here."

They are concerned about a plan that would move the Family Justice Center, Adult Protective Services, Casie Center, and Special Victims Unit into this building next to the East Bank Learning Center in December.   "I'm very upset because I'm entrusted with people's children," said Leslie Kleppe the director of East Bank Learning Center.  Kleppe, said the new neighbors would interview suspected child abusers just 28 feet from her playground.  For her that's a big safety issue.

The prosecutor's office couldn't talk on camera Friday but sent us this statement, "The Special Victims Unit has both law enforcement officers as well as deputy prosecutors who investigate and prosecute domestic violence and sexual abuse cases. We currently have twelve law enforcement officers from South Bend, Mishawaka and St. Joseph County who will be working in this new location.  There has never been an incident with our current facilities whereby children or victims have been targeted by suspects being brought into the Special Victims Unit for questioning."

Still the parents said that's little consolation.  "I know they're safe and I know they'll be under constant supervision but it just takes one incident," said Bogol.

Despite concerns, parents aren't trying to keep the organizations out.  They're trying to make this request of their new neighbors, "Move in become part of the community, the family, and what makes up fabric of East Bank area but please don't interview convicted or accused sex offenders within 28 feet of the school.  Find somewhere else to do it please," said Bengtsson

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