Facing pressure from the community, Township High School District 113 announced an upcoming security upgrade during a board of education meeting on April 25.
The district reportedly will hire an armed director of security to lead campus safety at Highland Park and Deerfield high schools. Aside from administrative duties, the director of security will be an active presence at the schools, especially when the school resource officers — one assigned to each high school — are not on site, said Superintendent Dr. Bruce Law to the School Board.
Law told School Board members that hopes are for the new hire to be in place by the start of the 2023-’24 school year.
Currently, security efforts are managed by a member of the district’s administration team. The district’s current security measures include an armed school resource officer (a trained local police officer) on campus every day, six unarmed members of a security team, and a recently upgraded student and visitor check-in system.
Law said the district plans to do what it takes to ensure the safety of its campuses.
“We’ve never not made a recommendation because of cost. Cost is not the issue,” he said. “… We need to be effective and we’re creating a school cuture and we want to be make sure we are creating a school culture that is positive but … what are we saying about the school culture if people don’t feel safe.”
District security came into question after a student brought a firearm to Highland Park High School on April 4, causing a two-hour lockdown and eventual arrest. During the public comment portion of the meeting on April 25, as well as April 11, a number of parents criticized the district for a lack of additional security measures in the wake of the July 4, 2022 mass shooting and pushed district officials to add metal detectors, among other upgrades, sooner rather than later.
In a presentation, Law displayed a chart with security features at what the district considers its peer high schools, which include Glenbrook North and South, Lake Forest, New Trier, Stevenson, Libertyville and Vernon Hills, among others. None of the peer schools utilize entryway metal detectors, while only one, Hinsdale District 86 (Central and South), employee armed security guards.
Waukegan High School and Chicago Public Schools, are among local schools that use metal detectors.
District officials are planning to meet with a security consultant on May 30 to learn more about metal detectors and to review other topics related to school security.
“With metal detectors, we’ll get our experts to tell us about it,” School Board President Ken Fishbain said. “There’s a huge range (of options) and a lot of literature about it. It’ll be interested to see … some of the things we can take a look at.”
Law also announced the high schools’ graduations, which are held at Ravinia Festival, will feature enhanced security.
More details on that security is forthcoming, he said, but the event will “work more like other events hosted at Ravinia rather than working like graduation ceremonies have worked in the past.”
The Record is a nonprofit, nonpartisan community newsroom that relies on reader support to fuel its independent local journalism.
Subscribe to The Record to fund responsible news coverage for your community.
Already a subscriber? You can make a tax-deductible donation at any time.