HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — A parental advocacy group held a rally Tuesday where they pleaded for improved security at Highland Park High School, ahead of a board meeting for the local school district.

The rally — led by Parents for Securing Our Schools, or Parents SOS — started at 5 p.m., two hours before a board meeting for Township High School District 113.

At two previous board meetings for District 113 on April 11 and April 25, parents from the Highland Park community repeatedly asked school board members about installing metal detectors and hiring additional armed security after an April 4 lockdown where police said a student was able to bring a gun into Highland Park High school.

“If you really think about it, we have to be successful 100% of the time to prevent a mass shooting. A mass shooter just has to be successful once,” said Enrique Perez, from Parents SOS. “That kid was not successful this time because the intervention worked, but what if it hadn’t? When it comes to the safety of our kids, we need an all-of-the-above approach.”

Perez and Suzi Wahl, another parent who is a part of Parents SOS, both had children inside the school on the day of the April 4 and said District 113 board members, as well as the Highland Park High School administration, owe parents answers.

“Once a weapon is in a school, it’s too late,” Wahl said. “This was nine months to the day after July 4th. Was July 4th not enough carnage?”

According to members of Parents SOS, they have contacted companies regarding metal detector installation costs, and even with hiring staff to man the machines, they said they feel District 113’s $6 million surplus could cover the price to make it happen.

Alternatively, District 113 does have armed school resource officers at each of its two high schools, and during the April meetings, board members pushed back against installing metal detectors, citing previous research they are an ineffective security measure and noting that comparable school districts like Evanston, Glenbrook and New Trier also do not have them.

Administrators with the district also said they sent out a survey to parents in partnership with a security consultant to gauge the depth of the community’s concerns.

“The reason that the survey was conducted through an independent third-party, was to make sure one, that it was representative of the sample, and two to make sure that each person taking the survey had a unique link,” said Karen Warner, director of communications for District 113.

Warner said the unique link insured the survey was a one time deal and everyone who took it could remain anonymous.

As for the survey itself, Warner said its goal was “to get a feeling of what they think about security, weapons, detection, systems, metal detectors, if they were implemented, how they feel that would impact the atmosphere of the school.”

A portion of Tuesday’s board meeting was dedicated to school security, where a presentation was given to review the methodology and findings of the survey.

Jim Hobart, the principal researcher from the polling firm that administered the survey, said 1,286 respondents submitted answers – an “incredibly high response rate,” according to Hobart, while some parents said they had issues receiving the survey and believe the money used on conducting it would have been better off going toward metal detector installation.

Hobart said the results favored opposition for metal detectors in favor of a different type of security technology.

“What we see is much higher support for weapons detection systems,” Hobart said during the presentation.

According to Hobart, those systems use technology that is faster than the tech used in conventional metal detectors and wouldn’t require people to remove belts or empty their pockets.

“The cost in implementing either metal detectors or weapon detection systems in the units themselves, really it’s [on] the staff that properly oversee their operation,” Warner said.

Moving forward, the school board for District 113 said it will consider all available security options and nothing is off the table.

The full presentation on the survey and its results can be read below: