The school board in suburban Highland Park called a special meeting on Thursday to consider safety improvement proposals, with students just days away from returning to classes.
Highland Park has been under a microscope since July 4, when a gunman killed seven people and injured dozens of others during the town’s Fourth of July parade.
On Thursday night, parents spoke out passionately in favor of safety policy reforms in the aftermath of that shooting.
“If something were to happen in the foreseeable future, and we’d have done nothing, we’d have to live with those regrets,” parent Tom Wachtel told the board.
The meeting was part of a reevaluation of North Shore School District 112’s safety policies, with officials taking public comments and suggestions from parents while also seeking expert advice ahead of the new school year.
“We take all ideas very seriously, and all suggestions are under consideration,” Supt. Michael Lubelfeld said. “We are also working with a national safety expert, and we run these ideas by that group as well.”
Ashbey Beasley echoed the concerns of many parents who spoke at the meeting, saying her 6-year-old son has not been the same since the horrific shooting.
“After our town went through a mass shooting and my son and I survived, I just knew this year starting we had to do something,” she said.
Beasley wrote up a proposal for the board, calling for a ban on visitors bringing bags into the school.
“If you take away bags, you take away a huge part of the threat, a huge part of the concern,” she said.
The school board took public comments on Thursday evening, then resumed the meeting in closed session, promising to keep the fears and the suggestions of parents in mind as they chart their course forward.
Parents appreciated the opportunity to provide feedback, and hope they will continue to be part of the discussion.
“We need to be informed, and kept in the loop,” Carlos Perez said. “This is very important to us. You guys are the administrators, but these are our kids’ lives that are going to be in your hands.”