District 113 leaders hope survey draws wider opinions on metal detectors for HPHS, DHS; Plus, community hears more about graduation security
Township High School District 113 officials have received plentiful, and at times intense, feedback related to security at its two high schools, Highland Park and Deerfield.
And it’s looking for more.
Superintendent Dr. Bruce Law told School Board members Tuesday, May 9, that the district will release a survey to gain more insight on the community’s feelings on metal detectors and other weapon-detection systems.
“We are trying to get a representative sample, which is important because we want to make sure we hear from all groups our families belong to,” Law said. “We heard from some people; we need to hear from more people.”
The survey is scheduled to be active for six days, Tuesday-Sunday, May 16-21, Law said at the meeting. It reportedly will be distributed exclusively via text messaging to the cell phones of district parents, students and staffers that the district has on file.
The text message will contain a unique link to help protect the survey’s integrity.
Law said answers to the survey, which will be managed by Public Opinion Strategies, will remain anonymous.
The district plans to review and analyze the survey’s data in time for the School Board’s next meeting on May 30, when district officials and their security consultant will share another security update with the community.
District security was thrust under the microscope after a student brought a firearm to Highland Park High School on April 4, causing a two-hour lockdown and the eventual arrest of the student.
During prior School Board meetings, on April 25 as well as April 11, a number of parents criticized the district for a lack of additional security measures in the wake of the July 4, 2022 mass shooting and pushed district officials to add metal detectors, among other upgrades, sooner rather than later.
On May 9, Law announced the survey as part of a four-pronged survey update, which also included more information on enhanced safety measures for Highland Park and Deerfield graduation ceremonies.
The events – Highland Park’s on Tuesday, May 23, and Deerfield’s on Wednesday, May 24 — are to be held at Ravinia Festival and reportedly will include many of the security features as a typical Ravinia event.
Brian Ahmer, the district’s director of operations and facilities, said guests to the ceremonies must have tickets and security at the entrances will include metal detectors and a bag search. Security personnel on site will include local police officers and K-9 units, as well as district and Ravinia personnel.
The district recommends families allow for extra time to enter the events.
Law also updated the board on the search for a district security director, a new position announced on April 25. The job posting for the position will close on Monday, May 15, and the district hopes to have a security director in place by July 1, he said.
Addressing the community, board member Jody Shapira said the district and board continues to review their options to improve safety and the hiring of a security director will not be the end of the process.
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Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319