OPRF addresses complaints, security issues with new campus policy

The tale of the videotape

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

Two weeks into Oak Park and River Forest High School's semi-closed campus policy, there have been no students standing on tables looking for a place to sit, school officials report.

That, noted Principal Nathaniel Rouse, was one of the complaints, and/or exaggerations, raised before the high school implemented its new policy of keeping freshmen and sophomores on campus during lunchtime. During an 11 o'clock lunch period last week, both the South and North cafeterias were abuzz with students —freshmen and sophomores eat in the South lunchroom while upperclassmen are in the North.

Students can also go to the bathroom during lunchtime, provided they let staff know. Kids being denied bathroom privileges was another of the exaggerations, Rouse said.

In all the first week went well, he said, and students have mostly adjusted to the policy change. Previously, only freshmen were prohibited from leaving the campus. Additional tables were added to the lunchrooms and one extra cafeteria employee was hired to accommodate the change.

Micheline Piekarski, OPRF's food and nutrition director, said students are in and out of the lunch lines in about 10 minutes. The North Cafeteria is the smaller of the two, so it made sense to put juniors and seniors there, she said. Security staff near the North Cafeteria doors monitor students entering and leaving. It's through those doors only that upperclassmen can leave out and return during lunch hours — typically from around 11 o'clock to shortly after 1 p.m.

Students coming in through any other door will be directed back to the North Cafeteria entrance. That was the case with four female students who walked through the main entrance on Scoville but were stopped by security staff. The high school has also purchased a new high-tech security system that records hallways, exits and entrances, and inside both cafeterias. OPRF security staff monitor the system.

"It's a great deterrent," Rouse said. "This is something new and we're monitoring this live. Faculty have designated doors that, during the day, we can go out of, so we don't set off the alarm. This helps us from a security standpoint and, also, if there is any movement or action, [security] can get on the radio and tell somebody we need to deploy some people here if [needed]."

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Is Grammar Dead?  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 1:28 PM

I hope they teach the correct use of an apostrophe at Parents' Night at OPRF. It is used to show possession, not plural. It is used after the "s" when showing possessive of a plural noun.

Parent of a Senior from OP  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 11:22 AM

No student's in the Student center, ask for permission to use the restroom at Lunch..RIDICULOUS, OPRF PENITENTIARY!!!! The students who misbehave during lunch or any other time during the school day should be dealt with not the entire student body. I hope all the parent's that pushed for a closed campus are happy.

OP Resident  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 10:06 PM

I mean teaching students how to be responsible off campus. How to make safe and responsible choices. According to the school every student is getting high during there lunch period so as apposed to solving that problem, they choose to hide it and lock everyone in. Fine. What happens when they are on there own with nobody watching? Seems like the perfect opportunity to teach our kids some responsibility and freedom is being passed up.

T from Oak Park  

Posted: September 11th, 2011 11:57 PM

OP Resident, what do you mean teaching students how to be safe? Do you mean how to keep safe in school by walking in numbers through the hallways? Or do you mean going outside and crossing streets?

OP Resident  

Posted: September 11th, 2011 10:22 PM

My biggest problem with this whole thing is that it is only a temporary solution. Instead of using money/resources to teach students how to be safe during lunch and make smart choices OPRF is choosing to lock the students in so that the community doesn't see the issues and thinks that the school is a happy/safe place. This whole thing is ridiculous.

T from Oak Park  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 9:59 PM

Jim Coughlin, that's why we stay strangers and don't become better neighbors because you lay out the ground rules but don't follow them, and if something goes against you, then it must be the same person using a different name or a racist. You also seem to consider yourself a sort of monitor on these forums. But welcome aboard, neighbor.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 6:43 PM

Come on now, stranger. I did not refer to you as a racist. In fact, I have no idea who you are or where you stand on any issue. To my knowledge, this is the first time you and I have ever engaged in a discussion on this forum. Perhaps we've gone back and forth on another occasion when you were using a different dub. It seems obvious that you are either not familiar with or choose to ignore the rules of a debate. Each side presents their position and are prepared to provide facts in support.

T from Oak Park  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 6:05 PM

Welcome aboard Jim Coughlin. Glad I could head you off before jumping on everyone about being racist. I am far from being a racist. I like to be realistic and don't ever label an entire group. That's like saying all Asian's are A students. What took you so long to join in the posts?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 3:10 PM

I had no intention to engage in this discussion but felt that I should respond to the strange comment posted by the stranger dubbed "T". There seems to be an effort by this stranger to tag me with some goofy label regarding race relations in our country and community. The topic deserves serious study and thoughful discussion. I have no interest in engaging in a debate with this stranger who expects me to come up with facts they think can support a very shakey position. That's not how it works.

Violet Aura  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 2:47 PM

that from students is totally unfair. And T? I never said I don't like to read posts thoroughly, so perhaps you are also in need of following your own advice! I said that with all the stuff I read online, I (as is normal for this sort of format) get into the bad habit of skimming. And sometimes that makes me write something that is not correct. But the gist of the poster's remarks was a blatant disregard for teachers at OPRF. I find that offensive and I suspect sour grapes about teacher perks!

Violet Aura  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 2:44 PM

@T: I stand corrected. I see that the poster wants them to be tutoring instead of watching the students. The reason I read it incorrectly is that s/he is obviously down on teachers. Teachers are not worth what they are being paid. They don't have accountability (whatever the hell THAT means). They are not honoring IEPs (you understand that this refers to SPED students' individualized learning plans?). As for that last point, it is so unfair. With all the students they have, to demand *cont*

T from Oak Park  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 12:52 PM

OP Parent, I mention race because once Jim Coughlin gets into this, his first response is how everyone is being racist. Violet Aura, new hs parent didn't say he/she wants teachers monitoring students in the hallway. You have been told to read before posting before, and your response was you don't like to read everything, but you sure like posting. Take a moment and educate yourself. As for students going to Fenwick, they need to really work on being a student. No playing like kids allowed.

Violet Aura  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 12:30 PM

Correction: OPRF. And these "special" students have ED/BD issues and therefore disrupt the class. @New HS Parent: You want the teachers to be pulled away from their academic work to police the hallways? Really? That is the best use of their education? What about this radical concept: what about weeding out the trouble-makers and putting them in a therapeutic day school with teachers trained in psychology and small class sizes? If OPRF continues on this track, more students will go to Fenwick.

Violet Aura  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 12:28 PM

@OP Parent: I know you were responding to another poster, but if we're gonna go there...There were allegations that Black students were being disciplined and suspended at a higher rate than Whites. Now if it's for the same infraction, then okay. But if Black students are acting up more often, then that's just the way it is and should not change! And I overheard some women who are associated with Dist. 200 talking about how Black SPED students who are out-of-district are attending OPFR.

new hs parent  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 11:07 AM

I'm horrified by the way the school is being run: 1. no accountability of the teaching staff 2. cluttered rooms, dirty walls 3. all resources being put into issues of achievement gap (which isn't working) 4. low test scores 5. teachers who don't want to accommodate IEP's 6. lack of technology, differentiation and student-centered focus 7. teachers monitoring the halls during their duty instead of tutoring 8. lack of communication within the school We're being overcharged for a poor product

OP Parent  

Posted: September 9th, 2011 9:41 PM

Not sure how race came into the issue. My comments regarding "some" kids meant exactly that - some kids. That was not intended as code for black kids. I assume some of the kids causing trouble are black - and that some are white. My point is the HS should focus efforts on the individuals who are causing trouble, not restrict all students. But that would take effort and probably would not get the high profile coverage in the Journal that locking the doors has.

T from Oak Park  

Posted: September 9th, 2011 7:45 PM

OP Parent, Oak Park is the perfect place for Rouse. It fits the make up of Oak Park. I have no idea what his race is, and it doesn't matter. When I said he fits the make up, I am saying he fits the lets waste a bunch of money and never admit to where and what the problems are. We all know it, but no one wants to admit it. Watch the students leave at night after a football game and where the Police have to be summoned to. It's not being racist.

Violet Aura  

Posted: September 9th, 2011 7:17 PM

I had to meet someone on the first floor two years ago and was stunned at the behavior of students I saw between periods. It was completely foreign to my days. I think it was a mistake to take away The Fourth Floor. Anyone who remembers knows that those students who could not abide by normal rules of society (even XP, for God's sake!) were sent up there. Now they have "alternative schools" or allow students to disrupt classes. It's a shame. One teacher told me a student lit a cig during class!

OP Parent  

Posted: September 9th, 2011 6:55 PM

We can only hope that Rouse will soon find a career opportunity some place else. The mentality that all kids need to be restricted because a few have caused problems is just nuts. In a few years when the HS is unable to provide data showing any improvement we will no doubt hear the familiar refrain of "God knows we tried but its really the parents' fault". Meanwhile how much $$$$ have they spent on all this security stuff?

T from Oak Park  

Posted: September 9th, 2011 5:46 PM

Oak Park High School is almost as secure as a prison. Why is that? Everyone knows why, it's because of the ruthless behavior that students who attend miss out in how to be civilized people in society so now Rouse has decided to take away the enjoyment of high school to students who know how to behave instead of making a learning school on self discipline off campus with it's own state of the art security systems and security staff.

Violet Aura  

Posted: September 9th, 2011 9:35 AM

Again, I thank Krishna I went to OPRF back in the day when it wasn't so prison-like. It was so fun to sneak out after homeroom for a "long lunch";)

RLM from Oak Park  

Posted: September 8th, 2011 2:43 PM

How did closing campus lead to not letting the kids hang out in the student center and having to ask to go to the bathroom during LUNCH?

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