Charter school could be opened near where sex offenders offered shelter in North Carolina

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The face of downtown Greensboro, North Carolina is ever-changing, and Marty Kotis’ newest project aims to continue that.

The real estate developer bought the Dorothy Bardolph building in 2016, formerly a human services center, with the idea of creating a children’s district around it. The building is centrally located near the library and children’s museum, and he plans to flip the Bardolph building into a retail center and charter school.

“I think it’s really exciting to bring a K-6 school to downtown Greensboro,” Kotis said. “It’s geared toward under-privileged kids, and they’re really excited about the idea of transportation with the depot being right next door.”

It’s also down the street from the Interactive Resource Center, a day center for the homeless to get job help, take a shower, use a computer or even send mail. On extremely cold winter nights, it also operates as a night shelter.

“One of the key components of our work is we’re a low barrier center, which means we accept anybody regardless of the reason they’ve fallen on difficult times,” said IRC Executive Director Michelle Kennedy. “We’re the only place for overnight accommodations where people who are on the sex offender registry could spend the night.”

Kennedy is concerned that could be threatened if Kotis moves the charter school to his building. Per state law, sex offenders cannot reside within 1,000 feet of a school. WGHP measured the distance between the two properties and found they’re separated by just 400 feet.

Currently, seven registered sex offenders use the IRC’s address as their permanent address.

The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Thursday, if the charter school becomes a reality, sex offenders would no longer be able to stay overnight at the IRC. They would still be able to use the center during the day.

Kennedy said she hopes Kotis will reconsider, because sex offenders aren’t her only concern.

“Having really young children in an area with a high need population… I’m just not sure it’s an appropriate use of the space or in the best interest in the heart of downtown,” Kennedy said. “I have a 9-year-old daughter. I understand, as a parent, the things you’d be concerned about if it’s not a community or population that you’re accustomed to interacting with on a regular basis.”

Kotis said he has no plans of changing course.

“I don’t really care about that population as much as other populations out there,” he said. “I think, if we’re ranking them, there are a whole lot of other people I worry about first before rapists, and child molesters and human traffickers, those are probably at the bottom of my list.”

Kotis said the charter for the school has already been approved and they are working on a business plan. The building is zoned in the Central Business District (CBD) so, he said, a school would be allowed without having to go back before city council. WGHP reached out to the Planning Department for the city of Greensboro but did not receive an immediate response.