Fights and Violence at Rich Township High School Leave Parents Upset (Matteson, IL) — Parents of students at Rich Township High School District 227 called for a press conference today in front of the district office after they say that the violence at the two high schools have not been addressed. This comes after video surfaced of a fight at Friday night’ football game where a student was left unconscious.
The parents gathered in front of Rich Township High School District 227’s Administration Office this afternoon to discuss their concerns with the news media. The office is located in Matteson, IL, near village hall and the Matteson Police Department. According to Randall White, a parent of students in the district, he was immediately met with hostility when the district heard of the plans to gather. “They threatened to have me arrested if I stepped on the office grounds,” said White. The press conference was held on the sidewalk instead.
Parents took turns speaking to cameras, expressing their concerns with the way the district has been handled since they consolidated the district’s three high schools into two. The district shut down what was known as “Rich East High School” in Park Forest, IL, and sent those students to the campuses known as Rich South in Richton Park, IL, and Rich Central in Olympia Fields. According to the parents, the split and consolidation have led to numerous confrontations between the students. They cite gang violence as a part of the issue. They also say that the officials at the school have not been transparent about the issues. Parents and students are saying that there have been over 30 fights since the start of school in mid-August while the district says that the fighting is being curbed.
The school outsources security to an outside firm. One parent said that that security at the school would rather make friends with the students instead of enforce rules. A student at the school said, “One security guard at [Rich South] is kind of crazy. She was screaming at a kid for wearing a hoodie and had to be held back by another security guard.” The school has banned hoodie sweatshirts from being worn due to concerns that students cannot be easily identified if the hood is up. Many teachers have said that the rule is a joke. “Most of my teachers don’t care if we wear our hoodies,” said the student. “They just remind us to remove them when class is over so we don’t get in trouble in the halls. I think it’s really dumb that we can’t wear hoodies. It’s literally all that I own. I love hoodies.”
A student who was attacked at school last week spoke to cameras about the incident. 16-year old Student Azariah Love said, “I was leaving out of class. The girl behind me pushed me to the side…they boys held her back. When they let her go, she threw her laptop at me…” She said that the other student also charged at her.
Her mother, Sunday Love said, “She shouldn’t be going to school to get hit in the face with a laptop.” Her calls to the superintendent were left unanswered as of this press conference.
Overcrowding was another concern the parents addressed. White, who is also a commissioner for Park Forest – Chicago Heights Elementary School District 163, said that his child often misses lunch because the lunch lines are too long. The schools have also resorted to block scheduling to address some of the issues with overcrowding in the school and on buses. One parent said that their 3 students have 2 different start and finish times, making it difficult to arrange for pick up, drop off, and other activities.
The parents said that their concerns were expressed to administration, but have not been addressed. A call to the school district by The Southland Journal was unanswered.
Fights and Violence at Rich Township High School Leave Parents Upset