• County updates registered sex offenders near private schools list

    By: Paige Hansen


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - 9 Investigates exposed 11 sex offenders are living too close to a private Charlotte school. 
    Eyewitness News went to Mecklenburg County's sheriff and asked how it could happen and uncovered a major gap in the system used to track sex criminals. 
    The Sheriff's Office said its sex offender tracking system had no record the school was even there. 
    There are about 1,000 registered sex offenders in Mecklenburg County, according to the Sheriff's Office.
    Sheriff Chipp Bailey said without all the information it’s hard to enforce the law.
    Along West Boulevard signs indicate a school is there. 
    But Oasis Performing Arts has been registered with the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education since 2004.
    Eyewitness News asked Bailey, "If we hadn't started asking questions about this, do you think you would have found out or would this school just go on -- sex offenders living within 1,000 feet?" 
    Bailey said, "Eventually, maybe somebody -- a parent or a neighbor -- would have raised a question, but without any indicator on the GIS maps or any indicator from anybody else, I don't know that we would have known."
    Bailey and his office track sex offenders and tell them where they can and cannot live based off information provided in this Geographic Information System.
    When an address is entered, it creates a 1,000-foot buffer around the school so a sex offender doesn't live too close to it.
    But Oasis Performing Arts that rented space inside a church for four years for its staff and 64 students was missed.
    The county has an outdated list of private schools, said Matthew Crisp, senior systems analysis for Mecklenburg County GIS.
    “It had probably been six months to a year,” Crisp said about the list.
    But Oasis has been registered with the state for 10 years.
    "It just slid by," Crisp said.
    Eyewitness News also found up to 15 other Mecklenburg County private schools were in the same situation.
    In the past week since Eyewitness News started asking questions, the county has made changes and all the private schools have been updated in the system.

    Now, the state will give Mecklenburg County an updated school list at least every month.

    The Sheriff's Office said it will work with GIS to find out if any other private schools were missed that have sex offenders living near them.

    If so, they'll have to move like the sex offenders who live near Oasis.

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