What a difference one year makes.

In the case of a Lehighton family, it's about 12 blocks long.

Mary Durishin has two children attending Lehighton Area Middle School on Beaver Run Road.

Her daughter is in seventh grade, and is no longer allowed to ride the school bus because she lives in town, even though the distance from her home to school is 12 blocks.

The other child is in sixth grade. But that child is allowed to ride the bus, according to the rules and regulations established by the Lehighton Area School District.

Lehighton established a rule that 7th and 8th grade students should walk to school, and that bus transportation in the middle school is restricted to 5th and 6th graders.

Two children live in the same house and attend the same school. Yet one can ride, and the other has to take a hike. Something's not right here.

Durishin isn't even that concerned about the distance her daughter has to walk. She's more concerned about safety, telling the school board this week that Lehighton currently has 15 registered sexual offenders living within the school district, including three in her own neighborhood.

We believe the district enacted the policy to save money. By eliminating the 7th and 8th graders, fewer buses are needed to transport the students. But perhaps that ruling should be evaluated again.

It doesn't make sense that two students, only a year apart in age, and both attending the same school, should have to live by a separate set of guidelines.

School officials told Durishin that the issue may need to be looked into.

We hope that officials were sincere when they told that to the mother. Perhaps there can be an exception made in this case. And we're fairly confident that there are only a handful of similar cases within the district, so making that exception wouldn't require a widespread changing of the rules.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com