The tragic shooting deaths elementary school students and staff in a Connecticut town last week have officials locally looking for a community-wide approach to making schools safer.
District 218 community members should work together to make schools safer, reads a note posted on the Shepard High School website earlier this week. The note calls for students to respect each other and for parents to actively participate in their children's lives.
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of the students and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School. There are no words to adequately convey our sympathies,” said District 218 Superintendent John Byrne.
School officials offered information on the district-wide security measures that are in place:
- The district maintains a dedicated telephone line where parents can report security concerns anonymously. That telephone number is 708-572-9405.
- Requiring students and staff to wear photo identification cards at all times;
- Requiring parents to annually provide proof of residency prior to registration;
- Updating the video system that monitors the interior and exterior of buildings;
- Maintaining closed campuses (students may not leave school grounds);
- Allowing visitors to enter through one door, which we lock. Security personnel then buzz in visitors, who must present photo identification and wear a visitor’s badge that includes their picture; and,
- Employing police liaison officers who are officers from our local community departments and security staff and usually are community residents. These partnerships allow Eisenhower, Richards, Shepard, Summit and Delta to have access to the expertise and advice of the 9 different fire and police departments that are within the boundaries of District 218.
Palos Park officials offered similar thoughts by expressing hope that participation would lead to greater safety.
"A safe school is a school where safety concerns are openly acknowledged, where there is participation and involvement between school officials and students, parents and community stakeholders and resource agencies like police, fire, emergency management, risk assessment/management officials," according to a statement released by Palos Park Mayor John Mahoney and Dan Polk, commissioner of Public Health and Safety.
Adding to concerns for local officials Tuesday was a manhunt for two escaped bank robbers in Tinley Park. Palos Heights police maintained a visible patrol around school during the day. Palos District 118 PE classes and recesses were held indoors. District 230, which includes Stagg High School, was on a "soft lockdown" while police investigated the reported whereabouts of the two wanted men.
Palos Hills police also reported the arrest this week of a local man who allegedly made comments about hurting children and shooting up the police station, as well as referencing the Newtown, CT, elementary school massacre.
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