About 75 Barrington High School students held an outdoor demonstration Thursday morning purportedly to protest the school district's recent budget cuts, officials said
But according to administrators, the protest quickly revealed itself as an unfocused rant about many things going wrong in the world.
None of the students who participated skipped class, but were among those who had a free period beginning at 9 a.m., Barrington Unit District 220 spokesman Jeff Arnett said.
About 30 of the protesters broke off from the initial demonstration and left school grounds, a violation of district rules.
Some of them, Barrington officials said, walked to the railroad crossing at Route 59 and sat in the roadway. A 17-year-old boy who refused to move when warned by police was arrested on charges unlawful assembly, daytime curfew and resisting arrest, the village said in a news release.
After the teen was placed in a police squad car, the remaining protesters cleared the roadway and returned to school, authorities said. The 17-year-old later was released to his mother and given a court date of May 2.
The original group of 75 gathered around the flagpole outside the school about 9 a.m. Administrators had been anticipating something as Thursday was designated as a national day of protest against school budget cuts, Arnett said.
Apart from the confiscation of a bullhorn from one student, the demonstration was largely polite and civil, Arnett said. But before long, some of the students seemed to recognize the event wasn't specifically about budget cuts and most returned inside within 15 minutes, he said.
Barrington High School Principal Steve McWilliams went out to talk to the students and hear what they were saying, Arnett said.
Last week, hundreds of students at Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville staged a morning walkout to protest budget cuts and teacher layoffs in Community Unit District 300.
In mid-March, after two months of discussions, District 220 cut $2 million from its budget, citing continuing uncertainties in the economy and its level of state funding. It was the third year in a row District 220 made cuts.
This year's cuts included the net loss of 1.8 full-time teaching positions, 10.3 full-time support staff positions, 0.8 full-time administrative positions and 41.5 stipends to oversee various student programs and activities.