by Dennis Sullivan
Feb. 20, 2014
A School District 201U official said Monday the Crete-Monee High School administration had no board policy to guide it when it cancelled after-school tutoring, sports practices and other activities on Feb. 3 and 4 in the wake of a series of inter-student fights that resulted in the arrest of two students.
Responding to school mother Kathy Hamilton during the board of education meeting’s public-comment portion, Asst. Supt. of Human Resources Anthony Edison said the administration took “a lot of things into consideration” regarding student, staff and school safety in deciding “at that time that that would be the best thing to do.”
“So,” Hamilton asked, “there’s no set policy; it’s just a decision based on that day’s activities?”
“Based on current circumstances and situations, correct,” Edison replied.
Hamilton was among several persons raising concerns at the school board meeting about fights at Crete-Monee High School and the school district’s response.
The school, located in Crete, serves some 1,560 students from Crete, Monee, Park Forest and University Park.
Crete Police and school officials say the physical altercations on Feb. 3 appear to have spilled over from quarrels on social media.
On Monday, school parents Brenda Messex and Jen Tallant separately addressed the district’s discipline policy, suggesting the high school administration has been inconsistent in interpreting and applying discipline in general and related to portable communication devices in particular.
A school mother whose name Eastern Will County News failed to get said the fights are caused by a group of girls who “go around and start trouble and don’t get punishment,” according to her daughter, a senior.
But the victims “who take up for themselves are punished to the full extent of the law,” she said.
With the current zero-tolerance policy, “we’re asking these children to do stuff no adult in their right mind is going to do,” she said.
“If somebody jumps on me, as an adult, I’m not going to stand there and take a behind whipping I don’t have to take. I’m gonna defend myself.”
Parent: District-wide bullying, fighting
School parent Cynthia Hudson said bullying and fighting aren’t limited to the high school.
“It’s ridiculous that I’m standing here today and we’re still going through the same stuff my daughter (now a C-MHS alumna) was going through in third grade.
“You’re seeing these fights everyday,” Hudson said, adding passive resistance isn’t an option.
“Once that person beats you up, that puts you in line for other bullies to beat you up,” she said.
School parent Johnny Lane said there should be zero-tolerance only for aggressors.
“One fight, you start it, you gone,” Lane said.
Board President Nakia Hall said the board realizes “there are some things that need to be tuned up and they will be tuned up.”
Kim Sanders, the only school board member to personalize parental concerns about safety at Crete-Monee school, said she kept her son home from school for two days after the fights, relenting only after he demanded to return.
Number of Feb. 3 fights still unknown
C-MHS Sophomore Drew Hamilton told the board he and his friends witnessed eight fights at the school that day, yet school officials announced only “three overall.”
Hamilton, wondering “why all the information wasn’t given to the parents,” asked, “What’s the reason for the cover-up?”
Hall said school officials originally were aware of only four fights and are “still working” to get all of the information.”
Edison explained the process: “The information comes out and we’re reporting it as we’re getting it.
‘That was the information we had’
“At the time those reports came out, that was the information we had, and so we gave what we basically knew was taking place,” he said.
“As we move forward, more things come out and we get a clearer picture of things that are going on.”
Asst. Supt of Student Affairs George Elrod said an investigation by Crete Police generated reports on four incidents, but acknowledged, “There may have been an incident here or there that staff didn’t see.
“So again, we’re looking at video, we’re looking at other things,” he said. “It was kind of a busy day.
Elrod: No cover-up
“To be real honest with you,” Elrod continued, “we wouldn’t try to cover that up. We would try to squash it (fighting) right away because your safety is our primary concern.”
Original material copyright 2014 Eastern Will County News; all rights reserved.
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