Eat and go: Tasty Dog, 208 Lake St., is a popular eatery among OPRF kids during lunchtime.TERRY DEAN/Staff

If Oak Park and River Forest High School pursues some form of modified closed-campus policy, the students themselves, and their parents, will greatly impact how that policy shakes out.

The District 200 Board of Education will meet May 26 to vote on the new policy of either closing the campus to all students or allowing only upper classmen under certain conditions to leave during lunch.

The school board brainstormed at their policy committee meeting last week what those conditions might be. Some members said parent permission should be a requirement. Others agreed but added that students must be in good academic and behavioral standing, among other suggestions, as a requirement.

Terry Finnegan supported allowing seniors to leave campus but with parental permission among the main requirements. Dietra Millard, the board’s president, favored a completely closed campus but is open to allowing upper classmen off campus. Responding to Finnegan’s suggestion, Millard said she’d be open to including juniors in their last quarter. Doing so, she explained, would be a way to prepare them for more responsibility as they enter their senior year. Finnegan said he didn’t consider that point but was open to the idea.

Concerning parental permission, Ralph Lee maintained that the school should be able to overrule a parent when deemed necessary. Sharon Patchak-Layman, meanwhile, said parent-permission was her only requirement for students to leave campus.

Jacques Conway favored a completely closed campus. The former Oak Park police officer also is in favor of giving students local ordinance tickets for loitering if they’re outside where they shouldn’t be. He urged the school to work with the Village of Oak Park and the police department, who would issue those tickets.

Amy McCormack noted that a “closed campus” doesn’t mean students should remain cooped up inside the building. She said the East Avenue mall and stadium were areas students could access outside the building under a closed campus model.

Overall, members spent nearly 2½ hours discussing the closed-campus issue.

The new policy also creates certain logistical changes that will have to be addressed between now and the start of the school year, said Superintendent Steven Isoye. The school’s code of conduct, he noted, will have to be modified to reflect any changes. School officials also said a large part of the process will involve communicating the change to parents and students.

Mimi Skapek, a member of the Citizens Council — the OPRF volunteer group that spearheaded the closed-campus push — attended last week’s meeting and was pleased with the board’s decision.

“The fact that they’re putting this much time and energy into discussing this and trying to move forward is great,” she said.

If you go

The District 200 school board’s next regular meeting is 7 p.m., Thursday, May 26, at OPRF, 201 N. Scoville.

Closed and/or open campus schools

A sampling of suburban high schools with either an open or closed campus:

  • Barrington Community Unit School District 220 (Barrington) – Closed campus since the early 1980s
  • Community High School District 99 (Downers Grove) – Closed campus for a number of years
  • Community High School District 128 (Vernon Hills) – Seniors in good academic standing allowed off campus
  • Community Unit School District 300 (Carpentersville) – Closed campus for a number of years
  • Elmwood Park Community Unit School District 401 (Elmwood Park) – Closed campus for more than a decade
  • Fenton Consolidated High School District 100 (Bensenville) – Closed campus for a number of years
  • Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95 (Lake Zurich) – Closed campus for a number of years
  • Lyons Township High School (La Grange) – Closed campus for a number of years
  • New Trier Township High School District 203 (Winnetka) –Juniors and seniors allowed off campus with parental permission, but only within a couple of blocks of the school
  • Township High School District 113 (Highland Park) – Closed campus for a number of years
  • Township High School District 211 (Palatine) – Juniors and seniors allowed off campus with parental permission
  • Township High School District 214 (Arlington Heights) – Open to all students except freshmen, who need parental approval

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