Students involved in what school officials called a “significant student fight” on Nov. 1 are being disciplined in accordance with Oak Park and River Forest High School’s “Behavior Education Plan,” according to OPRF spokesperson Karin Sullivan. The plan prioritizes restorative responses over punitive consequences.
The fight broke out between multiple students on the high school’s third floor the morning of Nov. 1, prompting the school to go under a soft lockdown, now known as secure and teach mode, at 9:50 a.m. to clear the hallways. The school lifted the secure and teach at 10:57 a.m. after students involved in the fight were removed from the building.
An Oak Park police officer was on the scene at the time of the fight as part of prep for the school’s planned emergency drills, which were rescheduled for Nov. 7. The police summary report details that a female student was battered by a male student while she was involved in a fight with an “unknown number of female students.” Another female student, also involved in the fight, reported that a male student pulled her by the hair and threw her to the ground. Both the female students were uninjured.
Sullivan did not share the exact measures taken by the school regarding the students who partook in the physical altercation. However, instances of fighting can elicit response levels two through five under the Behavior Education Plan. Those responses progress in seriousness. Level two requires students to spend a day in “in-school reflection,” while students can be suspended for up to four days “and/or recommended for expulsion” under the level five response. School personnel are trained in restorative conversation practices, peace circles, mediation and student reentry.
The school is not sharing any further details regarding the fight to protect the privacy of its students. Wednesday Journal will not be posting smart phone footage of the fight, which has been circulating online and through the community
“There’s no doubt that smartphones and social media mean school fights in general are more documented, even if they’re not necessarily more frequent,” said Sullivan.