16-year-old student charged after LTHS altercation | #students | #parents


An incident between two students at District 204 Lyons Township High School in suburban Western Springs last month resulted in criminal charges against a 16-year-old girl from La Grange, according to the Western Springs Police Department.

A 16-year-old Black sophomore student was arrested for battery after confronting a 14-year-old white freshman student and striking her multiple times on the school’s south campus around 1 p.m. April 27, police said.

Western Springs police said in a May 2 news release that the altercation resulted in the 14-year-old girl requiring medical treatment for visible injuries.

“The investigation remains open as we have referred the matter to the Cook County Juvenile State’s Attorney’s Office for review to see if upgraded charges are warranted,” Western Springs Chief of Police, Brian Budds, said on May 23.

Budds’ update comes more than three weeks after Lyons Township High School (LTHS) principal Jennifer Tyrrell notified parents of a social media post showing a video of “a student assaulting another student.”

The student who recorded the video also was charged with disorderly conduct, Western Springs police said.

Andrew M. Stroth, who is representing the 14-year-old girl, said there was a “negative” interaction between both girls a few weeks prior to the altercation that the school was made aware of, but there wasn’t a long history of issues between the two.

“My client did not make any racial statement to the other young woman involved in this incident,” Stroth said.

He said she was attacked “without cause or provocation.”

Stroth said school administrators are working to accommodate the freshman teenager who will finish out the school year in remote learning. In a phone conversation May 18, Stroth said his client sustained a concussion, a sprained wrist, had her hair pulled out and was “physically traumatized as well as mentally traumatized.”

At a board meeting Monday, May 16, some community members said they think the issues at LTHS are because of their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, spearheaded by Jennifer Rowe, director of equity and belonging.

“Many of us think [DEI] is not an effective program and despite the fact that you may think it is, there are a lot of us that don’t and we saw what happened in the viral video that went all over social media when that attack occurred in the school halls,” said Janelle Towne, Western Springs chapter chair for nonprofit, Awake Illinois.

Towne said her two older children graduated from LTHS during a time where, “nobody talked about what color skin they had.”

Leslie Mendoza, a senior at LTHS, chimed in, saying, “people used to get along — there was no color, no such thing as equity and belonging.”

“One year since we hired an equity director, we have seen more division, more hate — we saw it in the viral video of a student that was attacked brutally because of the color of her skin,” Mendoza added. “Equity and belonging means for all, not just [for] students of color — it’s all students.”

Mendoza has been trying to implement a Turning Point USA chapter at the school for the last year and said it was denied due to “false information.” The organization, known for advocating for conservative values on high school and college campuses across the country, has received backlash for promoting white nationalist ideals.

Conversely, Sheri Zierdt, a Chinese American parent from Western Springs, stressed the importance of continuing the district’s equity work, citing her own experience being on the receiving end of derogatory racial comments while growing up.

“We know that hateful words can have a long-term impact on mental health,” Zierdt said.

Zierdt also said an LTHS student was met with “ugly, hateful insults” in February for sharing on social media posts that celebrated Black History Month and highlighted the need for advocacy.

“I’d like to thank my daughter’s U.S. history teacher, who during that time led discussions in her classroom about the incidents that were going on on campus,” she added at the meeting.

Rowe was not available for comment.

While the April 27 incident is “disturbing,” Budds said it’s not unusual for students to be criminally charged at LTHS. “We periodically investigate cases that result in juvenile criminal or quasi-criminal arrests,” he said.

According to Western Springs Police, the number of students arrested or ticketed for incidents at LTHS this school year were: 19 local ordinance citations; two local Youth Peer Jury referrals; two youth station adjustments; and one custodial juvenile arrest.

In her April 28 message to parents, Tyrrell said, “Our team is currently working to investigate the situation, obtain additional information, and support students who have been impacted. Please know we are also collaborating with the Western Springs Police Department as they investigate this incident.”

The message went on to say, “Lyons Township High School will continue to be relentless in our pursuit of creating an inclusive school culture that focuses on belonging, respect, equity, and empathy. We will continue to stand against all forms of harmful behavior and rhetoric.”

The status of the sophomore student is not clear and LTHS District 204 has not offered any additional comments.

zsyed@chicagotribune.com



Source link

.  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .   .   .    .    .   .   .   .   .   .  .   .   .   .  .  .   .  .