By Terry Dean
In a recent talk withOak Parkand River Forest High School Principal Nate Rouse about security matters at the campus, he explained the portal-to-portal, or nexus, concept schools utilize—that is, what a student does from the time he or she lives home to the school and back. This concept played out a couple of years ago with the decision to partially close the campus and what students do when they're off campus. It also came up with the decision to install lights at OPRF four years ago — some residents complained about potential unruly behavior by students around the neighborhood during night games.
Basically, anything that happens off campus that creates a disturbance on campus is investigated by the school, Rouse said.
Last spring, the Oak Park Public Library contacted the school about some misbehaving students at the library. In our talk, Rouse said the library is a place students tend to go after school. It likely attracted even more students whenScovillePark— another student hangout — was closed for renovations. Rouse said he talked with library officials about preventing some of that misbehavior. OPRF safety and support staff also started walking with students downLake Streetto the library, Rouse said, where they're met by the library's security. And it wasn't clear if it was OPRF students misbehaving, Rouse said, but he noted it was only a couple of incidents that the library reported.
And in a residential community likeOak Park, that portal-to-portal concept has many layers, he explained.
"The difficult part of being in a residential area is portal-to-portal may look different," Rouse said. "When you have buses, now we're talking about kids who get on a yellow school bus and then they go to their location and then they go to their doorstep. Well, when you have residential areas or places where kids go in between them walking home and getting to their doorstep, it looks different. So what we try to do is called the nexus. It could be something that happens on the weekend, where that disturbance or whatever happened with those students—if that filters its way into the building, then that's something we want to address.
"That doesn't necessarily mean that always there are disciplinary consequences. But at the very least, it's a heads up to families to say, hey, we just got wind that this is happening, we're trying to make sure that that doesn't seep into our learning environment because then that becomes a distraction," he said.