D65 officials plan review of security

Kate Ward

Parents packed the Kingsley Elementary School auditorium for a Parent Teacher Association assembly Tuesday night to share safety concerns after a revolver was discovered in a girls’ bathroom on Jan. 4.

Police and administrators at the meeting discussed plans to increase security at the school and to continue investigating the incident.

Although most parents said they trust the administrators’ efforts to ensure their children’s safety, some were concerned that the school’s actions were falling short of expectations. Skokie/Evanston School District Superintendent Hardy Ray Murphy addressed parents’ complaints that they were not notified about the incident until the next day.

“Our primary concern was to assess any threat of danger,” he said. “It is important to note that we realize that (in the future) we need to clearly present our plans so everyone knows what we’re doing.”

Other parents said they feel that there was enough security within the schools, but not enough psychological help for the children in the days following the incident.

“I feel secure knowing the building is safe, but I’m upset by the lack of (concern) for emotional safety regarding this incident,” said parent Hallie Rosen. “We were safe in the building, but not emotionally.”

Murphy also said he plans to review the school’s crisis management policy with local authorities to increase security.

Evanston Police Department Chief Frank Kaminski encouraged those with information about the incident to come forward.

“You deserve answers to why there was a gun in the school,” Kaminski said. “We need the information to bring closure.”

Some parents raised concerns that racist attitudes may arise when searching for a suspect.

“Racial slurs indicating that it’s a black or white thing and someone saying something racial, that is more unsafe to me,” parent Kimberly Warr-Brown said.

Fears of racial bias were heightened after parent Deborah Graham told attendees about a letter that District 65 board member Julie Chernoff read at Monday night’s board meeting.

The letter stated that incidents such as this one will occur with the increase of diversity within the schools.

“We should not allow this to divide Kingsley racially,” Graham said. “It’s understandable that passions are high, but let’s not use this as an opportunity to scapegoat any individual.”

Earlier this year, a fifth grader in Prospect Heights, a northwest suburb, brought a gun to school.

Elementary District 23 Superintendent Greg Guarrine said they expelled the student and used the incident as a learning experience within the district.

“We impressed on students the importance of telling adults something that looks to not be right,” he said.

Parent Jeff Wilson said he hoped the incident at Kingsley would ultimately increase student safety.

“Maybe this whole thing is a blessing,” Wilson said. “Now we have an opportunity to review these procedures in an incident where no one was hurt.”

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