Mulvane Grade School: Gym sharing concerns

MULVANE, Kan. — The Mulvane School District and Recreation Commission came together nearly two years ago to begin building a multi-use gym. The brand new facility is now open to elementary students and senior citizens.

That open access to both groups has parents concerned.

“I am very irritated and frustrated with the school system,” said Kristen Palmer, a parent.

“It just disgusts me. It worries me. I just feel like there’s no need for it,” said Tina Ketcher, another parent in Mulvane.

Parents of grade school students are up in arms now that the recreation center’s senior citizens are walking the indoor elevated track during the school day.

“From day one, on the planning of this building, safety and security of students was the top priority,” said Tom Keil, Director of Human Resources in the Mulvane School District.

The joint project began when Mulvane voters approved the $13 million bond initiative in May 2012 with about 70% of the vote. Keil told KSN that the project was a joint-initiative from the beginning and voters knew the facility would be shared between grade school students and Mulvane Recreation Center users.

Regardless, parents are still worried about who has access to their kids. Some parents believe anyone who uses the gym should be background checked because of their potential interaction with the children.

“They’re gonna let ‘em in. They’re gonna say, ‘Hey, I wanna walk’ and they’re gonna let ‘em in, not knowing who they are,” said Palmer. “I don’t think they’re gonna do background checks or ask names or anything and they’re just gonna see an elderly person that wants to walk and not know anything about ‘em.”

KSN learned that while MRC employees and volunteers are background checked, the school district does not require the MRC to background the senior citizens that they are letting into the gym during the day.

“Currently, we don’t background check any of our members, but they do have to fill out a membership application,” said Ticia Human, Director of the Mulvane Recreation Commission. MRC senior citizens must also check in at the front office daily before using the elevated track.

During the school day, students and staff fill the one hallway that connects the two areas of the building. However, no MRC member has access to the hallway because the door remains locked while classes are in session.

It is just one of many safeguard measures the Mulvane School District put in place prior to building the facility.

For some parents, however, it’s not enough.

“If they’re within, you know, any range of my child, I feel that that’s not right,” said Ketcher.

“As a parent, I have to ring a bell, I have to state my business, and then go directly to the office. So to know that people are allowed in and out of a gym that my child’s using daily just, it’s not right,” said parent Gina Plummer.

Parents KSN spoke with plan to attend Monday’s board of education meeting in Mulvane to express their new concerns.

Representatives with the MRC tell KSN they would consider running background checks on gym members if that would help alleviate parents concerns.

The issue is a complicated one, especially since the state of Kansas has no laws restricting where registered sex offenders can live, work or go to school. There are also no laws restricting who a sex offender can be around.

To check who lives near you, you can follow the link to the National Sex Offender Registry website.

To read more about registered sex offenders and the rules surrounding them, you can also follow the link to the sex offender page on the Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s website.

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