The President of the Joliet Township High School Board, Frank Edmon Jr. has issued a statement regarding recent safety issues within the district. Last week WJOL reported that there have been 70 students suspended so far this year for getting into fights with at least one arrest in the entire Joliet Township High School district. On Friday alone, WJOL was told of ten different fights within the district. The situation has even lead to teachers at Joliet West filing a grievance by citing unsafe working conditions. The following is a statement from Frank Edmon Jr.
To begin, the Board of Education shares the concern of JTHS administration and staff regarding the number of incidents in our schools. As we communicated previously, these actions will not be tolerated, and we will continue to follow our disciplinary policies and procedures. Further, we are in regular discussions with all levels of the administration regarding our disciplinary policies and procedures and continue to make adjustments as necessary. The safety of our schools is always our first priority, and we are doing everything within our means to keep our students and staff safe.
Yesterday a grievance was submitted by a staff member to the building principal. The district will follow the collective bargaining procedures.
We want to take this opportunity to speak to additional measures we are taking, or have taken, to keep our schools as safe as possible. In the spring, the district approved the hiring of a District Director of Safety and Security. This was a new position that was approved by the Board of Education. The Board of Education also approved two additional security guards earlier this school year and the district is working to fill the positions. The Board of Education approved additional training for JTHS security staff at the September 21 Board of Education meeting.
The district is hiring two additional staff members to support contact tracing. These positions contribute to a safer school environment because students will be escorted to class by these individuals when addressing a COVID related matter. This eliminates unsupervised students and lessens the escorting security staff will need to do for contact tracing.
We are also taking direct action within our student body, such as limiting passes issued during instructional time and talking to students during advisory about behavioral expectations and reaching out to adults in the building with security and safety concerns. In addition, we will continue to conduct metal detecting and security searches upon entry to our buildings.
At JTHS, we work in partnership with our parents, students, and community. We have asked our parents to speak to their children about the consequences of disruptive behavior and we stressed that this will not be tolerated. We also want to take this time to ask for assistance from our entire community. We know that our students are dealing with a lot right now as they acclimate from learning at home for the past 18 months. We understand, and we are here to provide support. To make this support easy to access, the district has developed an online Request for Support Form that is located on our website, www.jths.org, under the family resources down menu. Community members, parents, and students can fill out this request and a team of staff members will review the request to immediately provide assistance. If anyone knows of a student who needs help, please fill out this form or contact the school. Through a preventative approach, we can work together to identify problems before they develop into disruptive behaviors.
The Board of Education appreciates the opportunity to share our thoughts surrounding this issue, and we ask that you do not forget about the good in our schools. Unfortunately, it seems as if the negative aspects often get the most publicity, but we want to remind everyone that we have great kids and great staff who demonstrate kindness and compassion every day.
Frank Edmon, Jr.
Board of Education President
Joliet Township High School District 204