Students at Homewood-Flossmoor High School conducted a walkout Thursday afternoon to draw attention to issues around sexual assault on campus, calling on the administration to take immediate steps to address the issue.
Police estimated the crowd at about 300 students who left during sixth period and marched from the school’s front entrance on Kedzie Avenue. Police blocked off Kedzie from Flossmoor Road north to about the entrance to the H-F Ice Arena at the north end of campus.
After marching along the Kedzie side of the school, students congregated on the open area at the intersection of Kedzie and Flossmoor Road. They chanted various slogans, including: “When women are under attack, what do we do? Fight back” and “When students are united, we’ll never be defeated.” Then they marched down the middle of Kedzie Avenue.
Students said they left the school to raise awareness of what they called a repeated problem. Several said there was a sexual assault incident last school year, and although the administration promised action, they don’t believe anything was done.
Students said they want to keep the pressure on the school administration and the walkout was one way to do that.
A junior in theater class reported an alleged sexual assault on Monday morning. Police were called and took a male student in for questioning, but no charges have been filed. District 233 also reported the incident to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as required by law.
Administrators, teachers and counselors met with more than 80 students at an all-school meeting at the end of the day Tuesday, Nov. 1. District 233 Superintendent Scott Wakeley and Principal Clinton Alexander said they want to hear from students and work for a solution. Both Wakeley and Alexander stepped into leadership positions this school year.
Senior Aaron McIntyre, who spoke at the rally, said he believes the new administration is trying to work with students, but added that students have “made it extremely clear what it is that we want and we’ve been promised that there will be changes. It’s incredibly important.”
The mother of the victim, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke during the walkout. She charged that the school “cares more about their image” than students. She said she learned her daughter had been the victim of a sexual assault when the principal called her, but that she had to demand the school release her daughter.
She claimed the school required her to take her daughter to Advocate Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn rather than be treated at a local hospital. The Chronicle has asked District 233 officials for clarification.
“Process wise, they need to make it a point to listen,” the mother said. She asked why the district didn’t seek immediate medical help for her daughter. The mother said she met several other parents at the rally who said their children had dealt with similar incidents.
“It’s unfortunate that we are literally in a situation where no matter what happens I think the school needs to step up and admit there’s a wrong,” the mother said.
Wakeley said H-F will be holding another meeting with students and it plans to partner with the H-F Parents Association for an informational session for parents.