Safe school zone around Evanston Township High School tabled


Annabel Edwards/Daily Senior Staffer

Ald. Delores Holmes (5th) listens Monday night as the Evanston Human Services Committee discusses student safety at Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave. The panel informally agreed to table a proposed expansion of a so-called “safe school zone” around ETHS.

Jeanne Kuang, Assistant Campus Editor

Evanston’s Human Services Committee informally agreed Monday night to table a plan to expand the so-called “safe school zone” around Evanston Township High School.

The decision came after Ald. Jane Grover (7th) drafted a resolution detailing safety measures already in effect at ETHS, 1600 Dodge Ave. The resolution says the school and city plan to install more lights along Church Street and train ETHS safety personnel and Evanston police in cultural diversity, among other goals.

On Monday night, Grover said those measures are enough to avoid expanding the safe school zone, a plan that has sparked civil rights concerns from ETHS neighbors. Under state law, anyone who tries to reenter the zone after being told to leave could face criminal trespassing charges.

“What I’m proposing is that … we let our police and our school do what they do best, which is to work hand-in-glove outside of and on the ETHS campus every day during the school year,” Grover said Monday night.

Without a vote, the panel agreed with her suggestion.

The proposal, an intergovernmental agreement between the city and District 202, is based on a state requirement to establish safe zones around schools that took effect January 2012.

Grover noted that the state law was implemented in Champaign, Ill., without the need for an intergovernmental agreement “in a way that has been entirely compatible with both the city’s and the school’s goals for ensuring the safety of residents, staff and students in and around the school campus.”

She said aldermen would not need to revisit the general issue of ETHS safety unless they find any problems with how the state law is handled in Evanston.

Grover acknowledged the tensions that have arisen due to the proposal.

“It’s been a really long process,” she said. “I regret … all of the negative stuff that has happened.

“I hope that the community does not expect or think that the state statute for a safe school zone somehow created an impervious force around our schools,” Grover added.

Evanston resident Betty Ester, who lives near ETHS, said aldermen cast a negative light on the neighborhoods surrounding the school while discussing the issue.

“Even if this ordinance had been withdrawn, thrown away, the damage to our community has already been done,” Ester said. “Our neighborhood has been painted as something that is a crime-infested neighborhood, which it’s not.”

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