ELMWOOD PARK, Ill. — Families, teachers and staff packed the gym at Elmwood Park High School Wednesday night and delivered a blistering assessment of how the school district handled a crisis situation involving a student with a loaded gun last week.
“Elmwood park, your bar should be better safe than sorry, not sorry thank goodness we’re safe,” said a parent during public comment. “You’ve left doubt in my mind that our captain is not commanding the ship.”
According to police, a 17-year-old boy was arrested last Monday following reports he left the school’s property with a loaded gun in his backpack.
The boy was arrested and no one was hurt during the incident, but chief among concerns held by staff and families were that there was no lockdown called while the school handled the situation, and the school only communicated with staff and families about the incident over email.
“we just want to make sure that our students feel safe when they are in our buildings, first and foremost, we want to make sure that we have transparent communication with our communities and our stakeholders,” said Amylynn Vero, a teacher at Elmwood Park. “We just want to continue moving – we’re hoping that this is a catalyst for change and we’re hoping that change is in a positive direction.”
The school district (CUSD #401), sent a letter to families Wednesday ahead of the meeting, saying in part:
“We want to assure you that it is everyone’s top priority to provide a safe school environment that protects our students and staff. Our goal in such situations is to de-escalate any threat, protect the well-being of all students and staff, and prevent panic.”
The full letter can be read below.
On Friday of last week and Tuesday this week, students held walkouts where they demanded changes to Elmwood Park’s safety policy, citing they no longer felt safe at the school.
In the same letter sent out to families in the community, the school district also said it would direct a review of its safety plans.
Stay with WGN as this article will be updated following Elmwood Park’s school boarding meeting, which is expected to start at 7 p.m. CST.