Maine Township High School District 207 is continuing to work on initiatives in response to reports of hazing at Maine West High School in Des Plaines, said David Beery, spokesperson for D-207, in response to news of proposed legislation that would increase the responsibility of education employees that neglect to report hazing incidents.
The bill, announced by , in a statement on Tuesday, would expand the definition of a hazing violator to include not only those carrying out the acts, but any employee that fails in his or her duty to report an incident of hazing.
All D-207 teachers and administrators were given a presentation on their role as mandated reporters of hazing incidents in January, Beery said, and the Park Ridge-based high school district was planning to hold focus groups on the “social climate and culture” in the schools with students, employees and parents next month.
“We are focused primarily on our own responsibilities and initiatives, further building on the policies and procedures we have had in place all along,” Beery said.
Antonio Romanucci, an attorney representing four current and former Maine West students in a bullying and hazing lawsuit which accuses D-207 administrators and employees of allowing the incidents to occur and failing in their responsibility to report them. D-207 has maintained it reported hazing incidents to the Department of Children and Family Services as soon as it received notification.
All student athletes and coaches, beginning with the winter sports season, were required to sign anti-hazing pledges, Beery said, and, last week, D-207 launched its new anonymous tip system, which students can use to report a wide variety of concerns, including bullying and hazing.
“Certainly, we also welcome any constructive measures that the General Assembly takes to address the problem of hazing in schools,” Beery said.