To the Proviso community, District 209, elected officials, current Proviso East students, parents and teachers: It is my personal and professional responsibility to report what happened on Friday, Oct. 8, at Proviso East High School in Maywood.

I accepted a random assignment to substitute teach, the first assignment I had taken in over a year. I can compare the experience with those substitute teaching assignments I completed before COVID and changes made since 2019.

What I encountered at Proviso East for most of the day was chaos in the hallways and in my classrooms. Numerous school policies were breached and compromised. I had mostly sophomores and, for one period, freshmen. The freshmen class was the only class that exhibited a healthy learning environment.

I almost walked out on the job. I have not seen this kind of negative student behavior at Proviso East for a decade.

Here is an inventory of shortcomings (and negligence) that I noticed:

• No lesson plans left for any classroom direction for substitutes to utilize;

• No classroom key, making school safety policy for violence prevention impossible;

• A high number of tardiness and entries into classrooms without a pass;

• An individual student who came into school late and high;

• Groups of students eating and drinking junk food in every class;

• Cellphone and iPad abuse; • Closed access to Memorial Hall (band) and the auto shop building due to a lack of administrative and security personnel;

• Locked bathrooms;

• Student absenteeism (an archaic and inefficient absence reporting process);

• Absenteeism of administrators;

• Profanities, including the N-word and the F-word used more than 30 times by both male and female students (the freshman class did not use profanities);

• Vandalism in my classroom of school property and my personal property;

• Touching the exposed abdomen of a female student by a male student in the classroom during class;

• Students randomly entering classrooms and students randomly leaving classrooms during instructional time;

• A general disregard of students who were working or on task;

• A reprimand to me through a proxy from a school building leader to “never send a student out of class”;

• Dedicated teachers who have reached their breaking points;

• A jail-like setting and hostile communication on overhead of hall sweeps all day;

• Circumventing the educational and classroom management system that so many worked so hard to create over the last four years.

The students at Proviso East need our help now. If there was a time for public scrutiny of classroom behavior at Proviso East and educational reform — the time is now!

Robert Cox
Forest Park