ALTON - Alton Community Unit School District #11 (ACUSD11) has released statements about increased safety measures following student altercations on Aug. 30.
In a letter to parents sent on Sept. 5, Superintendent Dr. Kristie Baumgartner explained that the school district has enacted several new policies and procedures to maintain student and staff safety. This includes the installation of new concealed weapons detection systems and an increased law enforcement presence at Alton High School.
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“The multiple physical altercations that took place on Aug. 30 were deeply concerning,” Baumgartner said in her letter. “The extreme disruption to the learning environment caused by these incidents was inexcusable and unacceptable. Please know we are in the process of administering school consequences to the students involved and working with our law enforcement partners regarding any legal consequences. While we cannot share the discipline of other students, please know these consequences are significant where warranted.”
Baumgartner noted that law enforcement officers and additional administrative staff will be present in the high school “until further notice to support students and better ensure school safety and security as we return.” Staff members were trained on how to operate the new concealed weapons detection systems, and these systems were in place when students returned to in-person learning on Sept. 6.
The concealed weapons detection systems were supposed to be installed earlier in the year, but were delayed due to high demand. The district planned to implement these systems later this month. Following the altercations, ACUSD11 has decided to install them and begin use immediately.
Additional policies are now in place to address student safety, including increased discipline for inappropriate cell phone use. Students who use their cell phones in a way that impacts student and staff safety will lose their phone privileges and face additional consequences.
“During the incidents that occurred on Aug. 30, an extremely unsafe situation occurred caused by students trying to video the physical altercations. The sheer amount of students trying to video make it very difficult for staff and other responders to immediately intervene,” Baumgartner explained.
The district has taken additional measures to minimize the risk of fights in the school buildings. They have narrowed open areas of Alton High School, such as the gymnasium, to “limit larger gathering areas and…aid in the direct supervision of students.”
The school will also remain on “restricted movement,” meaning that students are only allowed in the hallways during passing periods or when absolutely necessary. Baumgartner added that it is a “significant safety issue” if students are in other areas of the building unnecessarily and without an approved reason.
“After a comprehensive review of the video footage from last week’s incidents and the schedules of students involved, it was identified that several students were in an area of the school not necessitated by their schedule,” Baumgartner said in the letter. “Therefore, students who are determined to be ‘out of area’ or in an area of the school that would not be necessary based on their class schedule…will be subject to school discipline.”
Baumgartner concluded her letter by thanking Alton High School families for their help as the school implements and adjusts to these new procedures. During a school board meeting this morning, Sept. 7, the board reiterated that they cannot and will not speak on student disciplinary matters; this information is protected under the Family Education and Privacy Act (FERPA).
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