SD 201U parents upset about ‘phone’ suspensions
By Nick Swedberg Correspondent February 18, 2014 10:50PM
Updated: February 19, 2014 2:14AM
Some parents are still looking for information from Crete-Monee School District 201U officials about students being suspended for cellphone use at Crete-Monee high School in the wake of a series of fights Feb. 3 at the school.
Two students were arrested and one was charged with a crime after at least four fights broke out at the school that day. Damaria Sutton, 18, of Park Forest, was charged with aggravated battery.
At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, several parents questioned board members about an abrupt shift to a get-tough policy on the use of cellphones by students. They said an apparent crackdown on phone use during school has led to multiple student suspensions.
School board president Nakia Hall read a prepared statement before the start of the meeting, saying the fights Feb. 3 made board members aware that the school was not following the district policy to not allow students to use phones while in school.
Hall apologized for the “confusion and distress” felt by parents since Feb. 3 over students being suspended for cellphone use at the school.
“I can go on record as saying that the board of education was not aware of this lapse in following board policy,” she told the audience, adding that the board would not support any administration that did not support district policy.
Parent Jen Tallant expressed concerns about the tougher phone policy, saying students were informed at assemblies last week that the prior lenient policy had ended. Since then, Tallant said, students were suspended for using cellphones “almost instantly.” Her son was among those suspended, she said.
Some parents questioned whether the crackdown was related to what they said was a student using a cellphone to record some of the altercations Feb. 3 — a video that was posted to a Crete-area Facebook page that night. The video was removed from the page a short time later without explanation, the parents said.
Some parents also questioned the board on whether more fights had occurred Feb. 3 than had been reported and why parents weren’t notified sooner about the incidents.
Sophomore Drew Hamilton told the board that more fights occurred than the four that school officials had indicated.
“I personally saw five fights. My friends saw three, for a total of eight,” Hamilton said. “What’s going on?”