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Lockdowns Prompt New Security Measures at Bolingbrook, Romeoville Schools

More safety drills, beefed up security in VVSD.

Credit: File photo
Credit: File photo
Valley View Schools are beefing up security after two incidents that resulted in lockdowns at schools in Bolingbrook and Romeoville.

On Jan. 30, Bolingbrook High School was briefly locked down after a student allegedly threatened a staff member with a BB gun. The teen, who reportedly believed the weapon to be real, was taken into custody following the incident.

On Feb. 13, schools went on soft lockdown in Romeoville as police searched for the gunman after 15-year-old Briana Valle and her mother, 33-year-old Alicia Guerrero, were shot in front of their Emery Avenue home.

In response to the incidents, VVSD is redoubling its efforts to ensure the safest possible environment for students and staff, the district said in a press release.

“We are taking the incident at Bolingbrook High School, as well as the incident that occurred in the Romeoville community near two of our schools, very seriously,” Superintendent Dr. James Mitchem said on Tuesday, announcing that several changes are being made districtwide.

“We have already met with local authorities to determine the best way to work together to handle similar situations in the future," Mitchem said.

Changes include increasing the number of lockdown drills, as well as the times of day during which the drills take place.

"We plan on holding drills before and after school and during lunchtime in all of our schools, as well as during passing periods in all of our middle schools and high schools,” Mitchem said. “We want to make sure everyone is prepared for as many scenarios as possible.”

VSD will also work to increase connections with the community by re-establishing the successful Friends and Neighbors Supporting Students program (FANSS) in both high schools and at all five middle schools, and by placing an emphasis on establishing proactive student support groups.

The following changes will also take place at BHS, according to VVSD:
  •  A new alarm system has been installed that alerts the staff of a hard lockdown and contacts the police, without needing to use the intercom system.
  • In an effort to prevent students from opening exit doors during the day without an alarm going off, exit door alarms are being installed on doors 8, 10, 11, 14. These doors have been identified as off-limits for use during the school day. This will decrease the chances of an intruder entering the building unnoticed.
  • An exterior strobe light system is being installed on the exterior of the building at doors 1 and 17 that will alert anyone outside the building when the school is in a hard or soft lockdown.
  • The frequency of random searches will be significantly increased.
Director of Communications Larry Randa said RHS, along with all VVSD middle schools, already have the "panic button" alarm systems in place. Since Romeoville is a much smaller campus than BHS, exist doors can be monitored at all times by security, eliminating the need for exist door alarms, he said.

However, RHS will also get an exterior strobe light system, and random searches will be conducted more frequently on the campus, Randa said.

“Schools are known as ‘soft’ targets because they are more accessible than a ‘hard’ target such as an airport or government building,” Mitchem said. “It is impossible for any school district to guarantee that an event cannot happen on the campus. But our parents can rest assured that Valley View School District’s security system, which is recognized as one of the most comprehensive in the state, is designed to do everything it can to keep our children and staff safe.”

KC1018 February 26, 2014 at 01:47 PM
I agree with Harold. The parents are not parenting their children. We need a no tolerance policy. No slaps on the hand.
A guy February 26, 2014 at 07:10 PM
Metal detectors serve no purpose when the asshole shoots the security person working it first.
Cirrock February 26, 2014 at 11:22 PM
First of all folks, don't over react. More security won't hurt and the teachers could use some sort of support since admin ties their hands. Secondly, the whole article is to deflect from other issues. Finally, no teacher should be armed in any school, it's just a bad idea on any level.
KC1018 February 27, 2014 at 08:24 AM
It does deflect from the real issues. Some where, somehow, someone dropped the ball on this last "soft" lock down we had. My 7yo attends the gifted program at RD Hill. When the first call went out they assured us it was just a precaution. So I put my child on the bus. Then right after, then second call went out. Dr taking go keep the kids home, but if they were already on the bus they would be taken to the recreation center. When calling around to the school, school district, and the bus barn, no one could give a straight answer to where my child was at. Then I find out that they didn't even take my child to the recreation center like the call said, he was kept on the bus for an hour and a half parked in some random spot around Romeoville. Where is the safety in that. The biggest problem is no one wants to take accountability here. We need to fix our system, we need to add new security measures, and we need to have a no tolerance policy. Unfortunately we cannot change the fact that there are parents who don't care enough to be an active role in their children's lives, but we can improve the school environment so not all the children have to suffer because of these other kids.
Kristie February 27, 2014 at 09:19 AM
The Plainfield Park District is being investigated by the Illinois Stae Police and Will County State's Attorney for what appears to be contracts/jobs that were given to friends/relatives of the park district board. Maybe it's time for them to investigate Valley View School Distict and the connections between board members/administrators and the people they issues contracts/jobs to. What companies were paid to make these changes and what, if any, is their connection to school board members or the administrators in the district?

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