New security measures at OPRF take effect Monday
New security measures at Oak Park-River Forest High School took effect Monday. | Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 8, 2013 11:18AM
OAK PARK — Oak Park-River Forest High School will implement new security measures starting Monday, Feb. 11, according to a letter signed by Principal Nathaniel Rouse and mailed earlier this week to parents.
“Given the increased concerns about school safety throughout the country, OPRFHS staff has been reviewing the ways in which we might enhance the security of our building,” the letter said. “Based on this review, we are implementing a variety of measures to better protect the safety of students, staff, and visitors.”
The school, in collaboration with the Oak Park Police Department, also will conduct a “hard lockdown drill” on the afternoon of Feb. 12. The enhanced policy breaks down procedures according to the time of day from before the start of classes until after 5 p.m.
The security provisions include restricting the number of entrances used, requiring the use of student IDs and requiring students to be in specific classrooms or centers before, during and after school except during times when they must pass for classes and activities. Exits and hallways will be monitored throughout the day.
The policy also addresses what it asserts is a persistent problem, students who leave the building without permission. Those who do, risk suspension and restricted lunch.
“We recognize that this consequence may seem extreme,” the letter said. “The school is responsible for students’ whereabouts throughout the day, and we believe that this new procedure is necessary to create a safer environment.”
In addition, students found in the cafeteria or in the Student Center when it is not their lunch period may lose lunch privileges and be required to have lunch in a restricted area. Repeat offenders face the possibility of in-school suspension.
School officials could not be reached for comment. However, junior Devonna Graham said she didn’t believe the new measures truly would enhance security.
“There’s too many kids who go to this school and to come in through only three doors,” she said. “It’s already as secure as it’s going to get, I think.”
Alton Hayes, a parent of a junior and a senior, said he had not yet received the notice. However, Hayes said he had mixed feelings about the policy.
“For the safety of the kids I feel it’s good,” he said. However, Hayes explained the parts dealing with student behavior may send the wrong message and prevent students from developing self-responsibility. High school is a time when they should ease into making responsible decisions before they go off for college where there is little adult supervision, he said.
“Sometimes they take the security to an extreme. It’s sort of like keeping them caged,” he said. “Your children are supposed to be able to be trustworthy.”
The letter can be read in its entirety at www.oprfhs.org under “Latest News.”