MATTESON, Ill. - At Tuesday night's school board meeting, parents and teachers of Rich Township High School District 227 described a school in chaos.
One teacher with 19 years' experience at Rich described unprecedented levels of physical and verbal aggression from students. She told the board a number of fights have broken out in recent weeks. Teachers say there is little to no protocol in place to call for backup security, and that staff are experiencing burnout because of the "FLEX" schedule put in place for COVID and overcrowding.
"The blame game and all that stuff has got to stop and we've got to solve this! We want an orderly academic environment that is safe for our staff and our students," said the veteran teacher.
She described groups of students on campus with nowhere to go and nothing to do, and said in some cases only 20 minutes are allowed for lunch, when the lunch line itself can take that long or longer.
Both parents and teachers also described many students being unaccounted for during the school day. Several fake fire alarms have been pulled, and at least one teacher was assaulted trying to break up a fight. Parents also say their kids are often confused as to where they need to be and when, are not learning effectively, and accuse the administration of trying to paint a rosy picture of what's going on.
"I'm for all the parents and all the community members to get up in arms, get angry, and get that fire in their belly to fight against the decisions and plans put in place that aren't working," one parent told the board. "We all know it's not working, but you guys won't admit that it's not working."
As for the administration: the superintendent and principal say they have added 15 additional security staff, have made counselors available, have extended cafeteria hours, and have imposed disciplinary measures to remove problem students from campus.