The Evanston Township High School District 202 School Board directed expressions of betrayal at the City of Evanston for its refusal to approve an intergovernmental “safe school zone” agreement that it insisted was the city’s idea in the first place.

Board President Gretchen Livingston devoted the first half hour of the board’s meeting Monday night to a recitation of events that led to the drafting of an intergovernmental agreement that was readily approved by the board at its June meeting in anticipation of quick ratification by the city.

Instead, the City Council failed to approve the agreement in August after a Human Service Committee meeting heard expressions of concern by neighbors that it might restrict their movements around their homes.

Director of Safety Sam Pattineo told the board he had discussed the matter earlier in the day with the chief of police of Champaign, Ill., who expressed surprise that the issue was controversial in Evanston.

He said they have made very few arrests in Champaign, but they have used it practically every school day since the law was passed nearly two years ago as a way to prevent violence around Central High School in that downstate Illinois community.

“It is mind-boggling to me,” Pattineo said, “that something so simple could be so difficult.”

Board member Jonathan Baum said “it’s important that we go ahead with it because it IS an agreement.”

Livingston insisted that the whole purpose of the agreement, which allows authorities to tell potential troublemakers to “move along” if they gather on the sidewalk just before afternoon dismissal time, is to prevent violence…not to make arrests.

“The best outcome,” she said, “would be to never have any violence touch our students at ETHS and to never make any arrests.”

Baum said “this back and forth is really offensive and it sends a terrible signal to the community about whether we have this joint concern about our kids. The purpose of an agreement is to show that we agree.”

Approval of the intergovernmental agreement, said Livingston, would send the message that “we don’t tolerate violence or the threat of violence in this community.”

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Home values in Evanston affected by ETHS problems

    Any Evanston resident who thinks this issue doesn't effect them because they don't have children at ETHS is wrong.

    As a Realtor I am at a loss when a potential new Evanston resident asks me about our High School. The fact that ETHS is academically impressive is completely over-shadowed by stories of violence, weapons, drugs and gangs on school grounds and within the school.

    People do not want to move here if they have high school age children specfically because of the many negative stories they hear. We are not talking about an isolated incident. We are talking about on-going and pervasive problems that are common knowledge in our community and beyond.

    And we aren't doing anything about it. Unbelieveable. Personally I'm glad my youngest is a senior. I drop him off and pick him up every day. I'm not ready to lose my son to a stray bullet.

    1. Amen, Sara — the City Council should listen to you
      You see what a lot of parents see — a sketchy safety situation in and near the ETHS building.

      But you also see what a lot of parents don’t see — families unwilling to move here because of safety issues around (and perhaps in) the school building itself.

      Maybe the City Council will believe you? Our home values are damaged by ETHS sitting in the midst of an area viewed by many (in Evanston and beyond) as dangerous. That’s the kind of thing that a City Council, with thinking, caring members, would consider important even if those Council members don’t care about the safety of our students.

      And that’s what it looks like now. The City Council members appear, at best, to be disinterested in student safety, or at worst, wholly ignorant and uncaring about our children’s safety.

  2. In the 12 years my children

    In the 12 years my children attended ETHS, there were at least four homicides within a block of the high school… As the kids say, Google it.

  3. Just fire them

    This is outrageous and a fireable offense.

    The aldermen and mayor should understand if property values decline so do tax revenues. Our council seems to want to tax and spend us into oblivion. 

    Once an innocent student is shot on or near the campaus during or just after school hours there will blood on the hands of the City Council.

  4. Council endorses the pro-crime Fifth Ward cabal

    Let's note from the crime report that mere days after the council failed to act, someone was arrested across from ETHS for unlawful use of a weapon.

    1920 Lake

    Mario L. Banks, Jr., 19, of 1634 Pitner Ave., was arrested at 1920 Lake St. at 1:47 a.m. Tuesday and charged with unlawful use of a weapon. He is due in court on Dec. 21 at 9 a.m.


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