As concerned parents and community members, we must take decisive action to safeguard our children's well-being in our local schools. 

Recent incidents of adult misconduct have revealed glaring gaps in our schools' policies and practices. Our Boards of Education and Administration must address these deficiencies and implement measures that prioritize student safety above all else. 

Ensuring Child Safety: Policy Recommendations for Our Schools

Policy Gap Number 1: Transparent Communication and Reporting Protocols

The Board must commit to making public clear protocols for reporting misconduct allegations and ensuring transparent communication with parents and the community. Parents have a right to know about any incidents that could harm their children or compromise their safety at school. By fostering open dialogue and sharing information, we empower the community to be vigilant and proactive in safeguarding our children from potential harm.

Policy Gap Number 2: Immediate Removal of Suspected Individuals

In cases where a District credibly suspects sexual misconduct, it must prioritize the safety of students by immediately removing the suspected adult from unsupervised access to children. Delaying action puts our children at risk of the highest magnitude. The District must err on caution and act swiftly to protect our students from potential harm.

Policy Gap Number 3: Proactive Investigation of Past and Present Victims

When the District identifies a potential safety risk, it must proactively investigate whether other students, past and present, who encountered the perpetrator have been victimized. This includes contacting students and parents, past and present, with surveys to ensure no child suffers in silence. A lack of proactivity in investigating the possibility of additional victims could perpetuate a cycle of harm and undermine trust in our educational institutions.

Policy Gap Number 4: Comprehensive Employment Vetting

It is clear from the Paul Brock episode that criminal background checks are an inadequate process to evaluate risk since so many school districts, like District 65 in Evanston, have been willing to quietly fire sexual predators without engaging law enforcement. The implementation of Faith's Law statewide is a positive step towards ensuring safer hiring practices. However, to truly protect our children, we must extend employment history reviews to existing employees with unsupervised access to children, not just new hires.

Policy Gap Number 5: End the Cycle of Abuse - Do Not "Pass the Trash"

Our District must unequivocally commit to ending the cycle of abuse by adopting a zero-tolerance policy regarding adults found to have engaged in sexual misconduct within our schools. This policy, commonly known as "Do Not Pass the Trash," is imperative to ensure the safety and well-being of all children, whether they live in our community or not. Our Districts should do more than is required by law and report to the State Board of Education's Faith's Law database the names of every worker ever terminated by our schools due to sexual misconduct. 

Policy Gap Number 6: Formally Adopt Every Recommendation made in the David Miller Report. 

District 115 Commissioned a report in late 2020 to evaluate the District's handling of several communications from former Lake Forest High School students reporting sexual misconduct by former teacher David Miller. The District was in violation of at least one of the recommendations in 2023. We call on the Board to formally adopt, implement, and strictly comply with the 13 recommendations published on pages 41-51 of that report to the extent that it has not done so already.   

Policy Gap Number 7: Independent Third-Party Investigation

We call on the District to hire an independent third-party investigator to thoroughly assess their policies and practices. This investigator should comprehensively evaluate our current policies, identify any loopholes or deficiencies, and provide recommendations for improvement. Through a transparent and impartial investigation, we can help ensure accountability and regain the trust of parents and the community. Our Districts should strive to lead the way nationwide in ending the epidemic of sexual misconduct in schools.

In conclusion, recent events in our local schools serve as stark reminders that our children are at greater risk of sexual misconduct due to the lack of implementation of each of these policy suggestions. The safety and well-being of our children must be paramount in all decisions made by our educational institutions. By implementing these policy recommendations, we can create a safer environment for our students and rebuild trust within our community.

We owe it to our children to take decisive action and ensure they learn and thrive in a safe and nurturing environment.