Joliet Township School Board Calls Special Meeting to Discuss Violence in Schools

WJOL has been told that a Special Meeting of the Joliet Township High School Board has been called for Tuesday, October 5th at 7:00pm. The purpose of the meeting, according to sources, is to discuss the recent issues of violence within the district.  It was near the end of last month that WJOL reported that 70 students had been suspended since the beginning of the school year due to fights and physical altercations. WJOL has been told of dozens of incidents since that initial report including a fight on Friday that was recorded and shared on social media.

The statement below was released by Superintendent Karla Guseman  in response to the recent violence.

Dear Parents and Students,

I am sending this email today to address recent incidents in our schools which include fighting and battery against staff members.  I do not have the words to express the sadness I am feeling right now for our students, parents, and all our staff.  We should be focusing on the positive aspects of our schools, such as Central’s Homecoming and athletic contests throughout the district this weekend.  But instead, I feel as if we have a dark cloud hanging over us due to the unacceptable actions from some of our students.  
To begin, I want to thank the students who are making the right choices.  I see your positive contributions and you represent our school with pride.  You know what it is to be a true Steelmen or Tiger.  Thank you for making the right decisions. 
I now want to address the students who are choosing to conduct themselves in a manner that is both embarrassing and destructive to our school and community.  You are inciting violence and negatively impacting the students who are here to learn.  We understand that you may have been affected by the pandemic, but this is not an excuse for your behavior.  Your actions will not be tolerated in our schools.  
The violence we are seeing in our schools is unacceptable.  Along with the multiple student incidents so far this school year, two staff members were battered this week trying to protect other students.  Battery refers to the actual act of physically harming someone.  I am sorry that our staff had to deal with this disgraceful student behavior which I know has made them feel sad, scared, unsafe, angry, and frustrated.  I thank our staff for their efforts, but this is an unacceptable position to put them in and it cannot continue.    
There are consequences for students who choose to engage in violent actions within our schools.  The first instance of battery against any individual can lead to an expulsion recommendation, and students who commit battery will continue to be arrested.  If a student commits battery against a staff member, they are recommended for expulsion.  Students who engage in fighting will be suspended a minimum of 5 days.  If a student engages in a second fight, they will be recommended for expulsion.  All these consequences are listed in our student handbook which is supported by our Board of Education.  
Additionally, when fights have occurred, students have crowded around and taken video.  This is considered Instigation/Mob Action. This behavior can lead to an expulsion recommendation.  At a minimum, students who record fights will lose the privilege to have a phone within our buildings.  Students engaging in this behavior are making an unsafe situation even more dangerous.  This will not be tolerated.    

A new tardy procedure will be communicated next week.  Students who come late to class or who roam the halls are contributing to an unsafe learning environment.  There are far too many students in the halls after the bell rings.  Students are expected to get to class on time.

We have given more than enough time to get acclimated to our rules, expectations, and the structure of our schools.  Our staff and the students who want to attend school in a peaceful and safe environment deserve better than what they have experienced to this point.  Even if a student has not witnessed a fight in person, they have seen them on social media or have heard about them.  Our students and staff deserve to feel safe.  Students engaging in inappropriate and violent behavior are making that impossible and it will not be tolerated.

Parents, please discuss our school rules and the associated consequences with your students.  It will take all of us working together to make the changes that we need to see.  Remember that we are proud Steelmen and Tigers.  This unacceptable behavior cannot and will not continue.  
Dr. Karla Guseman