Superintendent tight-lipped over 'security threat'

Second email to middle school parents gives little information

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By Maria Maxham

Ten days after an email to parents about a safety concern at Forest Park Middle School, District 91 Superintendent Louis Cavallo sent a second email on the evening of Feb. 17. This email, presumably related to the first, references a "security threat" at the middle school.

"Please be aware that beginning tomorrow morning, additional safety precautions are in place throughout the school for students, teachers and staff," reads the email. No further information is given regarding what the additional safety precautions are or what security threat caused them.

The initial issue that prompted the email on Feb. 7 involved a middle-school student who, according to Police Chief Tom Aftanas, made "extremely vague" threats on social media. Although the Forest Park police were involved, no official charges were issued against the student, who was suspended.

One parent of a middle-school child, who wished to remain anonymous, said her child reported that social media posts by the suspended student raised concern that he was planning to bring a gun to school.

Speculation now among middle-school parents is that the student is returning to school after his suspension, and out of an abundance of care, the district is putting in place additional security measures. However, this is unconfirmed.

Parents have expressed frustration with Cavallo, stating that his emails don't provide enough details and cause more fear and gossip than alleviate concerns.

As students arrived at school on the morning of Feb. 18, a police vehicle was parked on the school playground. According to D91 Public Relations Director Scott Dunnell in an email on Tuesday morning, "Dr. Cavallo and Principal Joseph Pisano are meeting with the student and the family in a closed-door session. As an additional safety precaution, Forest Park police are on the school grounds this morning to maintain a safe environment for all students, teachers and staff."

Deputy Chief Ken Gross of the Forest Park Police Department said the increased police presence was at the request of the school district. According to Gross, "There was no immediate threat."

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