District 62 makes changes to recess supervision in wake of bullying

Updated 3/19/2021 10:35 PM

In the wake of a recent anti-bullying demonstration after a 9-year-old boy was injured by classmates at Forest Elementary School, Des Plaines Elementary District 62 officials said they will be implementing districtwide changes to safety practices.

Superintendent Paul Hertel outlined the changes Friday in an email to district staff, families and the community. About 30 parents and students participated in Tuesday's demonstration at a corner at Forest and Fifth avenues in Des Plaines.


The protest was led by Amber Johnson, the mother of the fourth-grader who was attacked during recess. Johnson said he was dragged to a secluded area, punched, kicked and jumped on, adding that the violence against her son is just the latest example of the bullying problem at the school.

District 62 is investigating the attack on Johnson's son. A Des Plaines police school resource officer is assisting, but the department considers it a school matter, Cmdr. Matt Bowler said.

Hertel's email said additional supervisors will be on hand during lunch recess. In addition, vests have been purchased to make recess supervisors easily identifiable as adults. Staff members also have been reminded to keep their walkie-talkies charged and with them "to support communication," Hertel wrote.

He wrote that the district has procedures to support children socially and emotionally.

"We will continue to review, evaluate and update them so that all students can enjoy a safe, positive school experience," Hertel wrote.

The superintendent referred parents to www.stopbullying.gov and encouraged anyone with questions to contact building principals.

• Daily Herald staff writer Russell Lissau contributed to this report.

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