Champaign school district discusses safety procedures

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — “Everyday I worry when they leave. From the top of the morning until they come home,” Rita Conerly, a mother, said.

That’s because Conerly is nervous of her kids’ safety with violence happening throughout the community. Conerly is not the only one worried, which is why Champaign’s School Board made student and staff safety their top priority tonight.

This comes after a student had a weapon at Centennial High School, forcing lockdowns for Centennial and Jefferson Middle School. A school bus was unintentionally hit in a drive-by shooting as well.

There was a variety of people in attendance, including Moms Demand Action. They spoke about addressing violence in the community, that is impacting the schools.

The school board held a closed door executive session at the beginning of their meeting. They discussed security procedures, school building safety, and how to respond to a potential threat to students, employees, faculty and staff. Board members did not disclose everything they talked about, but Superintendent Shelia Boozer says metal detectors will not be put up in schools. but some schools may randomly use metal detector wands.

She also says there’s a new anonymous tip line called “Securly.” Anyone can call in if they see or hear anything they think could threaten student safety and while the district is actively looking for safety solutions, parents, teachers, and families ask for transparency.

“For as long as I’ve worked in the district, issues related to safety and security always tend to be cloaked in a veil of mystery. When we ask for information the response might be we have to coordinate with the police first or that information is private,” Mike Sitch, Champaign Federation of Teachers Vice President, said.

“Schools are supposed to provide children with the opportunity to flourish as learners and individuals. Its not a safe space anymore. My kids don’t even feel safe,” Conerly said.

She went on to say she’s nervous for her kids to take the bus and even go to school. At a news conference on Friday, the superintendent said she plans to install security cameras and increase the number of security officers. Metal detectors were up for Centennial High School’s football game last Friday.

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