HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — North Shore District school board members met Thursday night to review security details for the new academic year in the wake of recent mass shootings.
On the advice of their security consultant, the board’s discussion occurred behind closed doors.
While the school board says the security conversation didn’t start with the Highland Park parade shooting, the shooting did add urgency. With the tragic events of Uvalde and the July 4 tragedy still fresh on their minds, parents hoped to offer their ideas on how the district could improve safety.
Ashbey Beasley was one of them.
“I think every parent is probably having concerns and discussions about school safety,” she said.
After the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Beasley said she posted outside her son’s school in Highland Park with a metal detector wand for the remainder of his school year.
“Was just like, ‘I’m going to go stand in front of my kid’s school and wand people,’ sort of take action because I was sick sending my kid to school,” she said. “I was physically ill.”
Weeks later, a gunman in Highland Park forced Beasley and her first grader to run for their lives.
“The only thing that is going to stop a mass shooting at a school is keeping guns out of the school,” she said.
Beasley is now she’s asking North Shore District 112, which serves children in pre-K through eighth grade, to consider banning visitors from bringing bags into school buildings.
“We already do this at Wrigley Field. We already do this at the Bears’ stadium,” Beasley said. “We could feel a lot more confident with kids going into school.”
Superintendent Dr. Michael Lubelfeld says both Uvalde and the parade shooting have led board members to reflect on their security procedures for behavioral threat assessment, response protocols and facility hardening, ensuring they align with recommendations of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force.
“Right now, we’re taking all ideas, we’re considering them, we’re running them through our security consultants,” he said. “We have sophisticated cameras and sophisticated locking mechanisms. We’re looking to see if we can up the ante a little bit. Are they the right cameras? Are they the right locking mechanisms? So, in areas where we might need to upgrade, we’re literally accelerating that and we’re doing that in real-time.”
As the first day of the year nears in a traumatized community, Lubelfeld says the district will do “everything in our power” to protect children.
For Beasley, that protection means the district should consider banning visitors from bringing bags into schools.
“It would make it easier for our front desk people to look at a person and see their hands are free,” Beasley said. “See they’re not carrying anything and to have more confidence letting them into the building and also removing the need for searches and for metal detectors.
“If it doesn’t happen, I’m prepared to come back and sit in front of my kid’s school.”