The safety and security of our students, staff, and anyone who enters our school is the highest priority of our Board of Education and staff. We take any threat to the well-being of our students very seriously and investigate any reported threat thoroughly. With the recent shooting tragedies in schools, churches, synagogues and workplaces, the fear that parents, students, and school staff experience on a regular basis is real and is understood. At the same time, we need to continue with our daily lives, and as a school, we need to continue to meet the educational needs of each of our students, which includes ensuring our students are safe and supported.
Here are the facts regarding the allegations of threats made over the past week at Oak Lawn Community High School.
On Wednesday, 10/31/18 a student reported to our Deans that she had heard about a possible threat on a list being created by another student. The student had not observed any such list, but wanted the concern brought to the school’s attention. The student was following our clear directive to students to always report any suspicious conduct or possible threat to the safety of our students and staff.
Between Wednesday, 10/31/18 and Friday, 11/2/18 our Deans and our School Resource Officer, Oak Lawn Police Detective Pete Hennessy, interviewed over a dozen students who reportedly had information about the alleged threat to school safety, including the student who allegedly made the threat. Not one of these students had personally observed such a list. Further investigation by school officials and the Oak Lawn Police Department concluded with no actual threat being found. A statement released by the Oak Lawn Police Department is attached.
The student accused of making the “list” was investigated thoroughly. Physical and electronic searches were conducted. Oak Lawn Police visited the home of this family on multiple occasions. Law enforcement officials confirmed that there were no firearms in the residence or accessible to the student. All we can prove is that the student made an inappropriate comment to a friend, and the school has taken appropriate action to address this conduct. Based on the findings of school officials and the OLPD, that comment did not rise to the level of an actual threat in any way.
On Friday, 11/2/18 and again on Monday, 11/5/18 our administration sent out messages to parents (see below) informing them that we were aware of the alleged security threats and that the investigation conducted by the school in cooperation with the Oak Lawn Police Department determined that there was no credibility to the allegations.
Yesterday morning, OLPD Detective Pete Hennessy, who serves as the full-time school resource officer at OLCHS shared these comments with our students to dispel the baseless rumors that have circulated via social media over the past few days, and to reinforce with students that they are completely safe at OLCHS:
“During lunch on Halloween, one of our students was heard making inappropriate comments that were reported to school officials. The deans and I investigated that incident very thoroughly and have determined the student poses no threat to our school. The only thing she did wrong was make a bad choice of words. I think we can all agree that we may have said something that we wish we wouldn’t have.
Since then, social media has blown up with ridiculous accusations that our school is unsafe. They have all been proven false. There is no hit list. That student has no access to guns. I am absolutely committed to the safety of our entire Spartan community and have no concerns that she poses any threat whatsoever to our school.
We investigate every report of school safety that comes to the office. If you see or hear something suspicious, report it to the deans’ office instead of spreading it on social media. Let’s all do our part to stop this false rumor chain.
Our school is as safe today as it was yesterday, as it was last week and last month. My kids go to our school. They are in school because it is a safe place for them to be. If you have any questions or want to talk about this, please see your dean, counselor, an administrator or me.”
Our Principal, Dr. Jeana Lietz added these comments to our students:
“As the instructional leader of our school, I want you to know that every adult in this school cares for you and is committed to your safety and well-being. If you need any help in dealing with the stress that these rumors have caused, please let a teacher or your counselor know. We are here for you.”
Our Board of Education President, Robert Loehr also commented:
“The Board of Education is fully committed to the safety of everyone at Oak Lawn Community High School. Upgrades to our facility, updates to our policies, and the employment of key staff members to monitor our campus at all times have created a school setting that is completely centered on the learning needs of our students in a safe and supportive environment.”
Michael Riordan, Superintendent
Oak Lawn Community High School
Electronic Message sent to OLCHS Families on Friday, 11/2/18:
Yesterday students reported a potential safety concern to school officials. The school administration along with the Oak Lawn Police investigated the situation and found it not to be credible. We are grateful for the students who brought this to our attention, and we would like to continue to remind both students and families that if you hear or see something suspicious please let a school official know immediately.
In a show of support for our school community the Oak Lawn Police department will have officers on campus this morning as students and staff arrive.
Thank you for your continued efforts toward school safety.
Electronic Message sent to OLCHS Families on Monday, 11/5/18
In response to rumors and incorrect information, this message is to clarify events that happened last week at OLCHS.
On Wednesday, 10/31/18 a student reported to our Deans that she had heard that another student had created a list that threatened other students. The reporting student had not observed any such list, but wanted the concern brought to the school’s attention. Immediately, our Deans and our School Resource Officer thoroughly investigated the student involved. While the student had made an inappropriate comment to a friend, the investigation concluded that no credible threat existed.
Between Wednesday, 10/31/18 and Friday, 11/2/18, our Deans and our School Resource Officer continued to interview more than a dozen students who reportedly had information about the alleged threat to school safety. Not one of these students had personally observed such a list, but were sharing various versions of the same story that was investigated the day before.
With school safety being our concern, even comments that are not intended to be threatening or are made in jest will be taken seriously. We want to thank the student who did bring this rumor to our attention, as they were following our clear directive to always report any suspicious conduct or possible threat to the safety of our students and staff.