EMERGENCY SCHOOL CLOSINGS
The District takes the responsibility of deciding whether to close schools seriously. Generally, schools will remain open except for extremely inclement weather.
When severe weather conditions exist, parents must decide whether their children can get to school safely. Even when the District decides to keep schools open, parents should review their own situation to determine if they should send their children to school. As a parent or guardian, you are also responsible for making alternative arrangements for your child’s care in the event that schools are closed due to inclement weather. If the possibility exists that a parent or older sibling will not be home, we encourage parents to designate an alternate destination for the children if school dismisses early due to inclement weather or an unforeseen circumstance. If you do decide to keep your child home on a day in which the weather is extremely inclement but schools are not closed, your child will be marked absent, but the absence will not count against any attendance incentive programs and your child will be given every opportunity to make up missed work.
Snow, ice, and extremely cold temperatures may affect bus pick-up and drop-off times, sometimes causing buses to run late. If a snow day is called, that decision is made by 5 a.m. You will be notified of the closure in a variety of ways:
- Phone, Text, and Email—District 15 will send a message to all parents through a voice call, text message and email. Please ensure your contact information listed in the Parent Portal is accurate. If you have changes you’d like to make to your personal contact information, please contact your child’s school office.
- Website—If classes are cancelled due to inclement weather, an announcement will be posted on the District and all of our school websites.
- Radio and TV—Should a snow day be called, District 15 will inform radio stations WGN-AM 720, WBBM-AM 780, and WGN-FM 105.9; TV stations CBS-2, NBC-5, ABC-7, WGN-9, FOX-32, and CLTV News. The announcement on the radio and TV describes our district as: “District 15, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Cook County.”
Parents and visitors are welcome at school; however, because unannounced visits can be disruptive and interfere with instructional time, all visits must be arranged through an appointment with the classroom teacher or office staff. Younger siblings in the classroom are a distraction; please make other arrangements for them if you plan to visit. Visits immediately before school holidays or at the end of the school year are not encouraged because those are extremely busy times for teachers and other staff members.
According to District 15 procedures, when visiting a school, all visitors are required to do the following:
- Enter through the designated visitor entrance door.
- Sign in to the school’s visitor’s log, providing any pertinent information listed on the log (i.e., name, destination, reason for visit, time-in/time-out, etc.).
- Provide personal government-issued identification card in exchange for the visitor’s pass.
- Visibly wear the visitor’s pass that is provided by the school’s office personnel for the duration of the visit.
- Be escorted by staff to their destination, if staff is available.
- Observe all laws, school policies, procedures, and rules while visiting the school.
- Sign out of the visitor’s log and return the visitor’s pass in exchange for personal government-issued identification.
All visitors to District facilities are expected to display respect, civility, and orderly conduct at all times. Those who do not comply may be asked to leave. If necessary, law enforcement authorities will be contacted.
All visitors are prohibited from entering the school with any type of weapons, knives, guns, or explosive devices. Visitors are further prohibited from bringing any type of illegal drug, corrosive chemical or liquid, illegal contraband, or alcohol into the school with them. Also, visitors are not allowed on the playground during school hours.
For the safety of students and staff, exterior doors of the school building will be locked at all times except when children are entering or exiting.
Only students are allowed to enter into the building in the morning. If a parent or visitor would like to take their child to class in the morning, they must enter through the main doors and follow the visitor sign-in policy.
Items dropped off for students, such as lunches, notes, homework, keys, or musical instruments, will be delivered from the office before lunch or before dismissal. Items must be labeled with the child’s name and room number/teacher or delivery cannot be guaranteed.
Parent volunteers are encouraged and welcome in all District 15 schools; however, we ask that the following protocols be observed:
- All volunteers must sign in at the school office and wear a guest or volunteer badge while in the building.
- All volunteers must note the purpose and destination of their visit and not deviate from this purpose or destination without prior notification to the school office.
- All volunteers follow confidentiality guidelines when working with students.
- Volunteers should not bring either under-school-age children or school-age children not attending school (i.e., absent due to illness, half-day programming, etc.) with them while volunteering.
- Volunteers are considered a part of the school population, and should observe all laws, school policies, procedures, and rules while visiting the school. In the event a visitor is in the building when a lockdown is initiated, remain in the area you are in and follow the directives of trained staff members.
District 15 is strongly committed to school safety. This commitment is demonstrated through the following actions:
- The implementation of a Standardized School Crisis Plan, created in conjunction with representatives from police and fire departments, that is designed to enable school personnel to respond appropriately to a variety of emergency and/or crisis situations that may occur on or near a school.
- The formation of a District 15 Safety Committee that is comprised of parents, teachers, administrators, and representatives from police and fire departments from Hoffman Estates, Palatine, and Rolling Meadows that meets quarterly to review and improve on district-wide safety policies and practices.
- Conducting the following drills at each school on an annual basis as required by Illinois School Code:
- Three evacuation drills. One of the three evacuation drills must be supervised by the appropriate fire department.
- One bus evacuation drill.
- One law enforcement drill. Each school in D15 completes two law enforcement drills annually. One of these two law enforcement drills must be a staff initiated lock-down.
- One severe weather and shelter-in-place drill.
- Updating the District’s mass communication tools to allow for communications to be sent rapidly to parents via phone, text, and/or e-mail.
- Conducting an annual drill review meeting with principals and representatives from police and fire departments to continuously improve each school’s readiness to respond to an emergency and/or crisis situation.
- Implementation of a visitor management system (e.g. Raptor) that screens visitors at each school against national sex offender databases.
- Implementation of an online bullying and safety reporting center that allows students, parents, staff, and community members to report concerns either by name or anonymously.
- Installation and regular testing of silent alarms at each school.
- Installation of video cameras at the main entrance at each school.
- Implementation of a system known as Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) at each school in the District that is designed to teach, model, and reinforce desired student behaviors. PBIS also provides supports to students who are struggling behaviorally.
Please note that the above list of actions are not representative of all measures that are taken to promote a safe and orderly learning environment at each school in District 15.
Parent Roles and Responsibilities Before, During, and After Emergency/Crisis
Although there are many safety measures in place at each school in the District, an emergency or crisis situation may still occur. Parents should consider the following actions before, during, or after an emergency or crisis situation:
- Speak regularly with your child(ren) about the importance of reporting any concern(s) that they have about safety to an adult either at school or at home so that their concern can be acted upon.
- Similarly, contact building administration to report any concerns that you have regarding school safety so that your concern(s) can be acted upon.
- In the event of an emergency or crisis, a parent’s first instinct may be to go to the school immediately. Instead, help law enforcement and school officials to keep the parking lot clear and roadways leading to the area open so that the appropriate first responders can arrive on the scene as quickly as possible. Once onsite, the responders will require staging space for vehicles and personnel. Staying clear of the school will help ensure a swift arrival of first responders.
- Stay home or at your workplace to receive updates via text / phone / email OR wait to be informed of a location in community where you can go to receive real-time updates from law enforcement / district officials / designated liaisons. Each municipality with schools in District 15 (Hoffman Estates, Palatine, and Rolling Meadows) have a number of locations that can be used to provide in-person information about an emergency to parents and community members. To maintain both flexibility and to ensure security of these various sites, additional locations in each community will not be shared until the day of an incident.
- Make sure your emergency contact information is up-to-date and includes accurate cell phone numbers and email addresses so that there is not a delay in contacting you in the event of an emergency. Also make sure you list trusted adults as emergency contacts who would be able to pick up your child if you are not available. Without exception, students will be released only to their parents, legal guardians, or emergency contacts identified in registration materials during an emergency or crisis situation.
- Social media is a powerful communication tool, but in the event of a crisis or an emergency, rely on information provided by school officials and law enforcement, and refrain from posting incomplete or unconfirmed details that may fuel confusion and/or fear in the community.
Partnerships with Police and Fire Departments
District 15 enjoys a positive working relationship with police and fire departments. This relationship has been built over time based on: a shared commitment for school safety; a focus on continuous growth and improvement; open communication; and trust. District 15 is grateful for the important service that police and fire departments provide for our schools and respective communities.
Definition of Terms
District 15 recognizes that school personnel and emergency responders may use terms when discussing emergency and/or crisis response that might not be known to all parties. Commonly used terms in school safety, along with their definitions, are listed below.
Soft Lockdown Procedures—A soft lockdown is primarily used in two different scenarios. The first is when conditions exist outside of the school building that could potentially present a threat to the safety of the students and staff. The second is a situation inside the building where the school or local emergency responders need to keep students and staff in their classrooms and away from an incident or activity. During soft lockdowns, students and staff can continue normal classroom activities, but they should not leave the classroom or offices until advised to do so. Additionally, no one is allowed to enter or leave the building until the soft lockdown has ended.
Hard Lockdown Procedures—A hard lockdown is used when a serious/volatile situation exists that could jeopardize the physical safety of the students and staff. During a hard lockdown, staff members will ignore all bells and fire alarms unless they receive verbal instructions from local emergency responders or the conditions (fire, structural damage, etc.) warrant the evacuation of the area. Additionally, no one will be allowed to enter or leave the building until the hard lockdown has ended.
Relocation (Evacuation) Procedures—An evacuation may be necessary whenever it is determined that it is safer outside the building than inside the building. In situations where weather is inclement or students and staff will be required to evacuate for an extended period of time, an off-campus evacuation may be initiated rather than evacuating to the on-campus location. Conditions requiring an evacuation may include a fire, an explosion, a hazardous material release within the building, or some type of structural failure in the building.
Severe Weather Watch—A tornado watch means that conditions in the area are such that a tornado is possible. No siren will be sounded when the National Weather Service issues a tornado watch.
During a tornado watch, all activities should continue as usual. Classes should be dismissed at the regular time, etc., but children who ride buses should be kept inside the school until their buses arrive, and students who walk home should be advised to go straight there.
Severe Weather Warning—A tornado warning means a tornado has actually been sighted or has touched down in District 15 or the surrounding area. When a tornado warning is issued, sirens are activated by Palatine, Rolling Meadows, and Hoffman Estates police departments. This warning will be a three-minute, sustained, steady blast.
If school is in session when notification of a tornado warning is received from the National Weather Service via the schools’ weather alert receivers, children will be required to remain in school. School personnel should stop all outside activity, and allow no one in areas under large roof spans, such as gymnasiums.
Each school has devised a “take cover” plan that is best suited to its unique building characteristics, and principals and emergency management have cooperatively identified the safest places to take shelter in each building. When a warning is issued, all personnel and students should leave their classrooms, closing the doors on their way out, and go directly to the area designated as the tornado shelter. Once there, children must sit on the floor with their backs to the wall and their heads in their folded arms.
Under no circumstances will classes be dismissed as long as a tornado warning is in effect. Once the warning has expired and the danger has passed, an “all clear” message and updates on the status of the emergency weather conditions will be sent from the superintendent’s office, at which point children can be dismissed.
If a tornado warning occurs at regular dismissal time, every effort should be made to bring the students back into the building and provide them shelter until the “all clear” signal is given. At that time, walkers can be dismissed, and bused children can be picked up at their schools in the normal sequence on a delayed basis.
Minor accidents which occur during the school day are treated by the classroom teacher or registered nurse. If the injury appears serious, the school nurse will call a parent. If a parent cannot be reached, the school will call the emergency number provided on the enrollment form. If a parent or designated emergency contact are not available and the injury requires immediate aid, the child will be taken to the nearest hospital by paramedics. Either the school nurse, principal, or assistant principal will accompany the child while school staff continues to try locating a parent.
CARING, SAFE, AND ORDERLY LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
Community Consolidated School District 15 is committed to maintaining safe and orderly schools and offices. This policy supports the District’s Civic Beliefs by promoting mutual respect, civility, and orderly conduct among students, employees, parents, and other community members.
Any individual entering District 15 property or attending District-sponsored activities including extracurricular activities, Board meetings, or athletic events shall treat others with dignity and respect. This policy is not intended to deprive any person of his/her right to freedom of expression, but rather to maintain to the extent possible a reasonable and safe, harassment-free educational atmosphere for the school community with minimal disruption. The District encourages positive communication and discourages volatile, hostile, or aggressive behaviors. The District expects public cooperation with this endeavor.
KEEPING OUR STUDENTS SAFE
The safety of all children attending District 15 schools is a top priority. Please review the school’s general rules and safety precautions with your child, putting particular emphasis on bus rules, bicycle rules and wearing a helmet, obeying the safety patrol, and returning home immediately after school unless other arrangements have been made. If you transport your child to school by car, please use the areas designated by the school for dropping off and picking up your child.
District 15 schools do not permit such items as knives, bean shooters, hard baseballs, etc., to be brought to school. If items that are deemed potentially hazardous to the student or others are brought to school, these articles will be confiscated.
SCHOOL THREATS TAKEN SERIOUSLY
If students write or talk about injuring or killing another student, staff member, or any other person, or about using weapons through any media, these statements will be taken as serious threats. All reports of such threats or statements will be fully investigated. If the information is substantiated, the student(s) involved will be disciplined as appropriate under District and/or building policies and local municipal ordinances. It is important for students to think about what they say, especially when angry or upset. Teachers, social workers, school psychologists, administrators, and services are available to assist students with behavioral or anger management issues.
ONLINE BULLYING AND SAFETY REPORTING CENTER
District 15’s Online Bullying and Safety Reporting Center provides parents and students with an additional option to report bullying and/or other safety concerns within their schools. Similar to making a report in person or over the phone, when making an online report, please include as much detailed information as possible because doing so will greatly assist administrators in investigating and addressing the concern(s).
Although it is usually best to speak directly with an administrator when making a report about bullying and/or other safety concerns at your school, sometimes students and parents are not comfortable doing so. Toward that end, this tool also allows for anonymous reporting.
Please keep in mind that online reports received outside of school hours will not be reviewed and acted upon until school is back in session. With that said, if your concern(s) require(s) immediate attention, please contact local law enforcement.
To submit a concern via the Online Bullying and Safety Reporting Center, visit www.ccsd15.net/TipLine.
STUDENT APPEARANCE POLICY
Appropriate student dress helps the school maintain an atmosphere conducive to learning not only during school hours, but also at all school functions.
Clothing and accessories that display undesirable and/or unhealthy images (such as, but not limited to, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, violence, or gang-related symbols) do not belong in a school setting. Also inappropriate are depictions of vulgar actions/language/behavior, gang signs, or sexually suggestive pictures or statements. Any obvious combinations of current gang colors will not be allowed. These policies will be strongly enforced.
A determination that a student’s dress is inappropriate will be made by the principal, assistant principal, or police liaison officer. The following guidelines are used in determining whether attire is appropriate. They include, but are not limited to:
- No bare midriffs.
- No undergarments of any kind showing.
- No bare or lace-up backs.
- Shoulders must be covered by at least two inches of fabric.
- Skirts and shorts must not be shorter than four inches above the knee.
- Tops may not be lower than an imaginary line drawn from armpit to armpit.
- No hats or bandannas are to be worn inside the building except when entering or preparing to leave the building unless they are for religious or medical purposes.
- Temporary hair coloring, glitter, or other alterations that may cause distractions in the classroom are not permitted.
- No night clothes (e.g., pajama pants).
- No mismatched shoelaces.
For safety reasons, students should follow these guidelines:
- Footwear which is safe for indoor and outdoor physical activity should be worn at all times. (Shoes with wheels are not allowed, platform shoes and thong-style sandals are discouraged.)
- No belts, necklaces, or bracelets with spikes or chains, including chains connecting wallets to a belt.
- No pants or skirts that drag on the floor.
- No coats, jackets, or other outerwear in the classroom.
Students who do not comply with the student appearance policy are subject to disciplinary action and will be required to change into appropriate attire.
Students are permitted to wear costumes on Halloween as long as their attire complies with the above student appearance policy and the following set of expectations:
- Costumes involving fake blood are not allowed.
- Actual weapons or look-alikes weapons are not allowed.
- Masks that cover the face and head are not allowed.
- Costume make-up is allowed provided it does not cover the student’s entire face. Staff members must be able to identify students.
- Costumes that could be offensive or perpetuate a stereotype about someone’s culture, gender, heritage or religion are not allowed.
In the past, the “creepy clown” phenomenon has created a degree of anxiety and fear among our students and the larger school community. Consequently, clown-related costumes are prohibited.
JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL POLICE LIAISON OFFICERS
The Village of Palatine and the City of Rolling Meadows have intergovernmental agreements with the District to provide a part-time police liaison officer assigned to each junior high school. The police liaison officers’ purpose at school is to assist school officials in maintaining a safe, orderly, and caring educational environment for all students. The officers provide a variety of services to students, parents, and staff and serve as positive role models for all students. They meet with individual students, small groups of students, and entire classes to discuss various aspects of the law and procedures of the court system. They are available to discuss specific situations with parents and staff. The officers are also available to elementary school parents, staff, and students.
Creating and maintaining a safe environment for our students and staff is one of the most important tasks educators have. It is with this in mind that each junior high school in Community Consolidated School District 15 partners with local law enforcement to conduct two (2) unannounced canine searches each year for illegal drugs.
All canine searches are limited in scope to lockers and other common areas (e.g., gym lockers, library, etc.) with building administration being present throughout the exercise. When a canine search is being conducted, the school is placed into a soft lockdown. A soft lockdown requires students and staff to remain in their classroom where instruction continues to take place.
In the event that illegal drugs are found during a canine search, building administration conducts a full investigation that would most likely involve the participation of our school resource officer and appropriate school-based and legal consequences would be issued.
Junior high administration will inform their parent and staff communities of each canine search after it has taken place.
Additional information about searches in Community Consolidated School District 15 can be found in Board of Education Policy 7:140.
SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION ACT
Public Act 94-004 makes information about registered child sex offenders available to the public, including names, addresses, and offenses committed. This information can be viewed on the Illinois State Police website at www.isp.state.il.us/sor, or parents may obtain information from their local police department or sheriff’s office.
Public Act 096-1524, known as Erin’s Law, amends the school code to address the prevention of child sexual abuse. In partnership with parents and families, the District is committed to raising awareness and providing resources to further community prevention efforts. Parents are encouraged to review the warning signs of possible child abuse as listed below:
- Unexplained injuries and changes in behavior
- Returning to earlier behavior (regressing to behaviors more appropriate for younger children)
- Fear of going to certain previously welcome locations (neighbors, relatives, friends, etc.)
- Changes in eating habits and/or sleeping patterns
- Changes in school performance and/or attendance
- Risk-taking behavior
- Inappropriate sexual behavior
- Mood swings
- Lack of personal care or hygiene
Visit the District 15 website (search “Erin’s Law”) for additional resources for parents. In addition to the schools, local and national resources committed to child safety, abuse prevention, and intervention include:
- Northwest CASA (Center Against Sexual Assault)—24-Hour Hotline 888-802-8890
- The Bridge Youth and Family Services—Crisis Line 847-359-7490
- Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health—Crisis Prevention 847-952-7460
- National Child Sexual Abuse Help Line—866-FOR-LIGHT (866-367-5444)
SUICIDE AND DEPRESSION AWARENESS
The District addresses suicide and depression awareness in conjunction with School Board Policy 7:290 in order to provide students, parents/guardians and employees with practices and procedures for early identification and referral of students possibly at risk of suicide.