Parents rally before school board meeting

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — “We want some additional safety measures and plans put in place,” Karen Sharp, organizer of rally, said.

That’s why parents and students were rallying outside the school board meeting wanting to have their voices heard.

Parents, students and community members rallied before tonight’s school board meeting. They also voiced concern before board members.

The organizer of the rally, Karen Sharp, thinks the district is doing what they can to keep the students safe, but she also has some ideas on ways to help with safety.

“Parents shouldn’t have to worry when they send their kids off to school, whether they’re going to be the victim of a shooting, whether its inside the school or outside of the school,” Sharp said.

Some parents afraid to send their kids to Centennial High School and some students are afraid to go.

“She’s afraid to go to the bathroom,” Tiffany Armas, who attended the rally, said. “So she’s afraid to be alone. She doesn’t feel as though they’ve necessarily been truly trained completely on the lockdown procedures.”

Parents are taking action. Karen Sharp organized a rally before the Champaign School Board meeting. Sharp says she wants to see how she can get involved to help, express her safety concerns, have good communication with the district, and more.

“We just want the chance to sit down across the table from the administration and have them listen to us and us hear them,” Sharp said.

Three weeks ago, police say a student pulled out a gun during a fight. Two weeks ago, shots were fired outside of the school. Police are looking for this suspect, but have no new information. Then last week, a social media threat surfaced. Police were called and even brought dogs to sniff around the school.

“There’s just a lot of hurting in our community, in our schools, and unfortunately our kids are on the front lines,” Armas said.

At the meeting, the school board talked about ways they’re addressing the violence. They are looking at text alerts that would go to parents, students, faculty and staff.

“When you’re in the moment of something happening, your priority is making sure all the students and the staff are safe,” Superintendent Shelia Boozer said. “That is your number one priority. Then getting the message and information out there, we’re definitely working on that too, but I have to make sure my students and my staff are okay.”

Superintendent Shelia Boozer says the district has an anonymous tip line set up, is installing 515 security cameras, is increasing security at school buildings and games, and more. She also wants to make sure there are emotional resources available for students and teachers. She says her main goal is to keep people safe.

“We have to have safety and security measures in place in order for us to run a school district, have our students in classroom, where they’re actually learning, and our teachers can be in the classroom doing what they love to do and that’s teach,” Superintendent Boozer said.

The school district told me they have been receiving anonymous tips through their app called “Securly.” The superintendent said violence won’t go away over night, but she hopes these changes will start to help.

The school district showed off their safety measures they are planning, these include emotional and physical attributes. For emotional support, some ideas are dynamic counseling and support services, having student roundtables, and establishing a wellness center. Physically, they want to have restorative practices and training, a “See Something, Say Something” campaign, active supervision by staff and more.

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