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Elementary students play near busy road

READ MORE: Elementary students play near busy road
NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- If you live off a busy road, you may be hesitant to let your kids play near it. But one local parent is wondering why his son's school is letting hundreds of kids do just that. The principal of Sunset Park Elementary School says she has no other choice than to let students play near the road. Mike Elders's son is in the third grade at Sunset Park Elementary. "I went to go pick him up and when I pulled up to the front of the school a ball was rolling out into the street and a child was chasing it," he said. "I had to slam on my brakes to keep from hitting the child and I was horrified." Elder says his son told him that's not the only close call that's happened during play time. "He said, oh yeah, there was a UPS truck that came by here and actually had to swerve off the road to keep from hitting a child," Elder said. For the past year Sunset Park Elementary has had to hold recess in a small area in front of the school -- right next to the road. School officials say construction started in the fall in the area where kids used to play. But Elder says the new play area isn't safe either. "There are children's lives in danger here and they're at risk. Their little lives are being jeopardized by some adult's decision to have them play in front of a school. And that's wrong," Elder said. "It looks like almost that the school is waiting on a tragedy to happen to make a decisive move on this." Principal Tyese Scott Oates says it's unfortunate this is the only outdoor space left for the kids to play... And that the school is taking extra precautions. Scott-Oates said, "What we've done to make sure they're safe is add supervision, so we've got extra people out there with them… Things do happen, balls do roll, the children are very aware of the rules and expectations and they do a good job of maintaining what we ask them to do." A spokesperson for New Hanover County schools informed NewsChannel 3 that a temporary fence will be put in front of the school as an extra precaution, hopefully next week, but could not answer why it took this long to be put up, especially since kids have been playing near the road all year. Also, we were told children do not play in the area roped off for construction for safety reasons, but right after the interview, we caught a PE class playing in the undesignated area. A school spokesperson says the teacher got nervous when he saw our cameras, so he took the kids around back and that it was a one-time incident that won't happen again.

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