Why Parents Are Asking, “Are District 214 Schools Safe?”

On February 26, the Daily Herald reported:

An undisclosed number of Rolling Meadows High School students were arrested Friday after fights on campus, authorities said.

School officials notified parents of the confrontations and the resulting police presence at the school late Friday night in a mass email.

The following Monday, the school was placed on “soft lockdown,” due to threats.  According to the rumor mill, which is unfortunately the only way to obtain such information, these threats were gang-related.

This incident let to heated discussions on local community Facebook groups, in which some parents worried that fighting had gotten out of hand and others claiming that there had always been fights and this was nothing new.

With that in mind, here are two datasets.

The first is the data from the “5 Essentials” survey, specifically, the questions on teacher and student safety.  These are questions asking about feelings of safety, not measurements of actual acts of violence, but it is still an important comparison to statewide data.

In this survey, the higher the number, the more teachers/students reported feeling safe.  I have highlighted in yellow, scores which are at or just slightly (5%) below the state average, and I have highlighted in red those where scores were more than 5% lower than the state average.  Note that there are only four years of data available, and that 2021 scores had dropped dramatically, so the 2022 scores reflect a partial but incomplete improvement.

Second, here is data on actual disciplinary infractions, that is, “disruptive behavior” and “fighting” counts for Spring and Fall of 2019, Fall 2021 and Spring 2022.  Note that even though the Spring 2022 data was requested on June 1, 2022, only the first quarter of that period was provided, so that data has been adjusted to provide an apples to apples comparison.

In total, there were 420 disciplinary incidents/students involved in incidents in Spring 2019.  In Spring of 2022, that number had nearly tripled, to 1,200 (prorated) — and that’s discarding the even higher number of 1,298 in fall of 2021.

Has the situation improved since March of 2022?  Fundamentally, the community has no way of knowing, sort of ongoing FOIA requests.  The district does not provide any real-time data on the matter at all.

Now, part of those discussions in community Facebook groups was the assertion that a student needed only to stay away from fights, whenever they might happen, but, again, looking at, for example, the Rolling Meadows 5 Essentials data, 56% of students felt “very safe” in classrooms, but only 42% said the same about school hallways and 34% about school bathrooms.

Families deserve to know what’s really going on and deserve to know what schools are doing, concretely, about these issues.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Middletown_High_School_North_Hall.jpg; image for illustration only and not a district 214 school.