Parents on edge over homeless camp behind elementary school

VIDEO: Homeless camp set up just feet from school in Pierce County

A homeless camp set up just feet from school grounds is putting parents of students at a Pierce County elementary school on edge.

On Thursday, KIRO 7 tagged along as the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department searched the homeless camp that sits behind McKenna Elementary School. It didn’t take deputies long to spot pills, meth pipes and piles of trash.

“That stuff is terrifying, because that is stuff our children shouldn’t be exposed to,” said mother Julie Hurley.

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Hurley’s son, Landon, is in first grade at McKenna Elementary School. She found out about the homeless camp Tuesday when the school sent out a safety email.

“To me, it’s completely asinine that we have people that can leave these kinds of dangerous things that our children should not be exposed to,” she said.

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Yelm Community Schools officials said they spotted the camp when they came back from winter break. Workers also found open alcohol containers, garbage and a pocketknife on school grounds.

“It’s terrifying because, no matter how many times you tell your kids, ‘Don’t pick that up, don’t touch that,’ they still do it,” said Hurley.

The Sheriff’s Department said they evicted two people they found living inside a tent, but the couple left behind a mess.

“When you see a homeless camp and people were there, you always find evidence of alcohol, stolen property, hypodermic needles. That just comes with it. There aren’t a whole lot of them out there that don’t bring those problems, and that’s why we address them,” said Ed Troyer, with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

School officials said kids aren’t in danger. Workers are walking the campus, keeping kids from the lower field by the camp and working closely with police.

Tacoma Rail owns the property that sits behind the school where the camp is located. Officers said a cleanup crew will be hired to come out and pick up the site, which should happen in the next few days.