District 200 and law enforcement authorities are investigating an incident of alleged sexual assault that is reported to have occurred recently in the building during nighttime hours. The district cannot share explicit details, as the incident involved only students. We believe this was an isolated event.
The district took immediate measures specific to this incident. In addition, we have taken steps to see how we might enhance the security measures we already have in place to ensure the safety of students. One was to conduct a thorough review of the number and placement of security cameras throughout the building. Because of security issues, the district cannot detail the results of this audit. However, as a result of our review, our staff will begin installing additional cameras throughout the building during Winter Break.
Another step is reviewing the degree of access that has been allowed on campus after hours. We recognize that the Oak Park and River Forest community values the many ways residents and local groups have been able to use the building outside of school hours. As we consider our practices in this regard, as well as other safety measures, our goal is to balance the high school’s role as a community asset with the need to do our utmost to ensure the safety of our students, staff, and visitors.
Beyond security, we are committed to fostering a culture where staff and students feel safe, respected, and emotionally supported. Efforts already in place include this year’s addition of a complete pupil-support team of counselors, a social worker, and a school psychologist. In addition, our Physical Education curriculum includes the Step Back self-defense and violence-prevention program for all male students and the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) self-defense program for all female students.
Incidents of sexual violence on our campus, however rare, let us know we must do more. Sexual violence will not be tolerated. Opportunities will be provided for staff and students to reflect on what we can and will do to make the high school a place that is physically and emotionally safe for all.