DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) – In emotional testimony pleading for change in Decatur Public Schools after her son was attacked, a mother told the board security isn’t good enough.
The son of this speaker is a sophomore at MacArthur High School. He was jumped by a small group of students in a classroom on Sept. 23. The fight was recorded and a video was shared online.
Veronica told WAND News the school never notified her and she found out about what happened when her son was with EMT’s. He was taken to a hospital for treatment, and Veronica said the fight left him concussed. She said she was told her son was kicked and stomped.
On Tuesday, Veronica told the board security needs to be better. She said this wasn’t the first time her son was attacked in school and noted she had gone to leadership previously about other students bullying and picking on her son.
This could have been anybody’s child, Veronica said. She claimed security can’t get there fast enough if something does happen in school.
"Something needs to happen to where these kids are protected," she said to the board during public comment Tuesday night. "We send our kids to school to be protected and go to school, just as well as we protect them at home, and we can’t even do that anymore."
Another parent came to the podium after Veronica and said a student followed her son from Hope Academy in September and pulled a gun on him. She said the gun turned out to be fake when it was found on him at school, but it looked real.
She said security needs to be "pushed up" in schools and made suggestions, including ID cards at high schools and checking the bags of students at grade schools.
A concerned citizen who does not have children at DPS then came to the podium and talked about what can be done to help with violence and other issues the district is seeing. She said it was "disheartening" to see the video of the fight involving Veronica’s son.
She asked when the board might have a special meeting about security. She suggested metal detectors and potential community partnerships that could involve after-school jobs for kids and mentoring.
She suggested when budgeting is discussed by DPS, security should be considered.
Regarding Veronica’s words Tuesday night, DPS responded to a request for comment from WAND News with the following:
"DPS administrators continue to address last Thursday’s incident, and the investigation is ongoing. Student safety is always the utmost priority — this behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in Decatur Public Schools."
DPS officials noted in a previous statement the the fight only involved MacArthur students and any claims saying the situation involved non-MacArthur students are untrue. The statement said the following:
"District administration is aware of an incident at MacArthur High School on Thursday. A group of students engaged in a physical altercation in a classroom. DPS staff intervened to gain control of the situation. Administrators are taking statements and meeting with students as the incident investigation continues. Student safety is always the utmost priority — this behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in Decatur Public Schools," said Denise Swarthout, spokesperson for the district."
September 28, 2021 at 10:37PM