JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) — Safety concerns are mounting at two southwest suburban high schools, and it has nothing to do with COVID.
What it has to do with is a series of fights in the hallways, one of which even involved a principal caught in the middle of the punches as she tried to break it up. It was enough to call a special board meeting at Joliet High School District 204 Tuesday night.
As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, there weren’t even enough chairs inside the school board meeting to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend. Many parents were forced to wait outside and watch a live stream of the meeting.
The majority of parents and faculty who spoke voiced frustration about what they described as a lack of consequences for fighting. Many are calling directly on the board to get a handle on what’s been described as the chaos in the hallways.
Cellphone video shows all-out brawl in the middle of the school day. Joliet West High School parents who shared videos of the fight with CBS 2 said it happened Friday. They identified a woman in the yellow seen in the video trying to break up the fight as the school’s principal.
“I am fearful for my daughters at Joliet West,” said Rosemary McCune.
McCune has two daughters in the district. She says students who chose to fight and disturb school have been let off the hook.
“Students that are causing problems and then allowed back into the classroom after a slap on the hand,” she said.
“I have told my daughter if she fears for her life, walk out,” added Joliet Central High School parent James Hill.
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Hill’s daughter, Jamie, is a sophomore at Joliet Central.
“It’s just really chaotic at the moment,” said Jamie Hill.
District 204 said since the beginning of the school year, 80 students have been involved in altercations. Some led to arrests, others suspensions.
At least two teachers have been injured in fights
The school board held a special meeting Tuesday night, at which worried parents and staff were given the opportunity to let the board hear it.
Sarah Davis said her son got caught in one of the melees.
“He was trapped by one of the brawls as he left gym class,” Davis said at the meeting. “He had nowhere to go.”
“The videos of the violence happening in our schools sickens me, and causes me to be fearful for my daughter’s safety,” added Joliet West parent Heather Myers.
The board did not respond to any of the public comment tonight. Along with those who participate in the fights, the superintendent also put students who record the fights on notice — saying they will also be held responsible.