ETHS employee fired over locker thefts

Nora Shelly, Assistant City Editor

Evanston Township High School District 202 Board members fired an ETHS school safety officer Monday after allegations surfaced that school employees were stealing from student’s lockers.

The employee, who was not named, was fired as part of the School Board’s consent agenda at their meeting Monday night. Allegations against staff members arose last month after student-filmed videos surfaced on social media that appeared to show employees digging around in student’s lockers in a locker room. The continuing investigation could possibly implicate a second staff member, ETHS District 202 Board President Pat Savage-Williams told The Daily.

The investigation is being led by ETHS officials and the Evanston Police Department, ETHS Superintendent Eric Witherspoon said at Monday’s meeting.

The school has had issues in the past with thefts from lockers, Witherspoon said, but the allegations against staff members he said were particularly alarming.

“It is pretty disheartening and sickening when there are allegations when the people who indeed are hired and protected to watch over the belongings of our students could possibly be breaking the law and ripping off our students,” he said. “This is not only a school matter, this is a police matter, and the allegations are certainly serious.”

Witherspoon announced several changes in locker policies as a result of the theft allegations, including a new online system for reporting thefts and limiting the possession of a “master key” to the lockers in the locker rooms to the chairperson of the physical education department. Additionally, staff members will only be allowed to go through student’s lockers — locked or unlocked — with at least two witnesses present.

Savage-Williams told the Daily that school officials are currently working on how to rebuild trust with students.

“We’re all upset about it, and we’re all trying to figure out what we can put into place to keep this from happening again,” she said.

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