Learn about what goes into school safety at Palatine forum
Presentations about how Palatine police address school safety and the dangers of spreading false threats on social media will be part of a community education session next week hosted by village and school leaders.
Palatine Village Manager Reid Ottesen said plans for the April 12 forum began after a gang-related shooting near Palatine High School in January. The idea accelerated after the February killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and a social media threat involving Palatine High School in March.
"It's called 'School Safety Is a Shared Responsibility,'" Ottesen said. "That's the theme of the night. And the shared responsibility is really three components. You have the local police department, you have the school districts, and you have the parents and families."
Set from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at Palatine High, 1111 N. Rohlwing Road, the evening's presenters will include Ottesen and administrators from Palatine Township Elementary District 15 and Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211.
Also featured will be Palatine police officer Jeff Schlee, who oversees school safety in the village. Schlee is known for studying past school shootings and creating response plans designed to save lives.
He is expected to give insight on training received by police and school employees, as well as procedures if a shooting or other incident happens.
What role parents should have in the event of a lockdown or crisis will be part of the discussion.
Ottesen said the role of social media also will be addressed. Rumors of a threat March 5 against Palatine High School -- initiated and spread by four juveniles now facing charges -- led dozens of parents to keep their children home from school for the day.
"Social media just took over between parents and students spreading bad information," Ottesen said. "And that's really a component that we also want to touch on."
Palatine High Principal Gary Steiger said "extremely disruptive" social media postings led to attendance being as low as 50 percent at the start of the school day March 5 and then dropping to about 30 percent by the end. District 211 officials said the rumors also affected Fremd High School in Palatine.
After the presentations, audience members will be asked to break into smaller groups for discussions specifically related to younger children at District 15 or teenagers at District 211.
District 15 Superintendent Scott Thompson said he expects the forum to be valuable for all who attend.
"I think they will see we have planned, as much as we possibly can, and work collaboratively with the police department, the fire departments and the other school districts to make sure that we've got plans in place," Thompson said. "That we'll keep kids as safe as possible."