ALTON, Ill. — Administrators at an Illinois school district are implementing new safety rules nearly one week after a series of fights broke out.
The fights at Alton High School on Wednesday, Aug. 30, led to two days of remote learning and even classes getting canceled. Alton High students will be back in-person learning on Wednesday, Sept. 6., and they’ll notice several changes immediately as they walk into the doors.
Some Alton High School parents, like Ebony Absher, say this isn’t enough.
“It makes me fearful to send my daughter to school. Nervous is an understatement. I’m afraid to send my daughter to school. I’m afraid for these children in this district. There’s no leadership,” she said.
Absher still has many unanswered questions about what took place at her daughter’s school nearly one week ago.
“What we saw on Wednesday was inevitable, so it’s time for change. It’s time for them to see that, okay, now you can’t hide because everybody has seen it at this point. We need change to happen, and I’m demanding it as a parent in this district because I’m going to be here for the next 12 years. I’m not going anywhere,” she said.
On Wednesday, a series of fights broke out inside the high school’s halls. Absher’s daughter described the violence as “war.”
“At this point, I can’t even describe the feeling that came over me when I ran to my vehicle to go get my child because it’s like, nobody wants to see ‘war’ come across the phone when they’re talking to their child and their child is describing their day at high school. Unacceptable,” she said.
The Alton School District announced new safety measures they were putting in place nearly six days after the incident happened.
A total of five metal detectors will be spread out by the front entrance and the gym entrance. This is something the district was already going to implement later this month but is now starting early as an extra layer of protection.
There will also be increased presence of law enforcement and administrative staff at the school.
Bobby Rickman, Alton Education Association president, believes these new policies will be helpful.
“From this, we’re going to have to continue to monitor what we’re doing, look for where there needs to be adjustments made and I think that that’s the most important thing is taking where we’re at now and continuing to adjust to that,” he said.
Rickman is also hopeful the new restrictions on wide open areas of the school for students will help the constant congestion problems.
“Those are things that maybe in smaller schools you take for granted, but when you get in a larger school with a larger population, it becomes a little bit harder to manage,” he said.
While Rickman is thankful for the district’s new steps, he believes the root of the problem lies in social and emotional support.
“That is the bigger picture moving forward of how we try to implement and how we try to provide more resources for our students and the problem is that just a lot of those resources aren’t out there,” he said.
For the rest of the week, students will be limited to where they can move around outside of passing periods.
The district is also cracking down on phones. If someone is using their phone to record something like a fight, their phone privileges could be taken away.