Haven Middle School.

Evanston police say a Haven Middle School student has been referred to juvenile court on a disorderly conduct charge in connection with the discovery of three nooses in a playground area at the school on May 13.

The department says the state’s attorney’s office has declined to add a hate crime charge to the referral “because the actions and motive of the involved juvenile did not meet the legal, statutory elements of a hate crime.”

Police Cmdr. Ryan Glew says officers responded to the school 2417 Prairie Ave. about 1:40 p.m. on Friday, May 13, following reports of a disturbance.

While on the scene, he says, officers spoke to a witness who pointed out three ropes fashioned into nooses hanging from a tree that officers removed and recovered as evidence.

Glew says the department’s detective bureau immediately began an investigation in cooperation with Evanston/Skokie School District 65 that included witness interviews along with review of surveillance footage and cellphone videos that led to the identification of the student charged in the case.

Because of the confidentiality of juvenile court proceedings, the student’s identity cannot be released.

Glew says the department takes all such incidents extremely seriously, appreciates the cooperation of the school district in the investigation and encourages all students, parents and staff to report any suspicious activity as it occurs to police and/or school officials.

Update 6:55 p.m.: In a statement this evening, District 65 Superintendent Devon Horton said the district now “will move forward with its own internal investigation to determine the appropriate level of interventions, both disciplinary and restorative.”

“This matter was very troubling,” Horton added, “and we must take the steps necessary to help ensure that this type of hurtful act does not happen again.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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20 Comments

  1. There are so many kids in this district needing support; support they’re not getting under the current administration. People need to take note. Horton offered compassion and support to a kid who carried a loaded gun to camp. Good. We need to offer the kid and his family support and compassion. Let’s compare what Horton did to the “noose” kid: he mischaracterized what happened. He identified the kid to a whole bunch of people who have threatened and continue to threaten the kid and his family. He can’t discipline the kid for good reason and he knows it. Instead of circling back and correcting his, and this is putting it kindly, misstatements, he’s continuing to talk about discipline. No. Kids. Need. Care. Compassion. Guidance. Period. To those ridiculous hypocrites who continue to threaten the family and cast aspersions where you do not have the facts, may you and the district enjoy the courthouse soon.

    1. If true, and Horton shared the identity of the student, that is a violation of confidentiality and I would think grounds for removal.

  2. If you are a parent and are in the Facebook Parents and Guardians page and not appalled you might be in a cult. There are grown, well connected humans calling for the exploitation of a 12 year old. This is how far this town has fallen. There isn’t really much backlash there against them either.

    The collective stage of denial happening in front of our eyes is jarring. Lack of effective leadership in Evanston is one of the reasons why we are here. We elected a state wide known politician that is either too scared or to incompetent to lead. We have a paranoid guy running D65 that caused this panic in the first place and is continuing with this crusade. The harm done to this community was done by him and his cronies. The D65 school board elected by a minute minority of the electorate are a pack of self obsessed narcissists incapable of logic. Also Kim Foxx deciding to get only partly Jussie’d again is also to blame.

    The school failed to act on the build up to this and this child was crying out for help. While we do have a gaggle of adults that behave as if they are children, we do still have actual children in this town. Children should be protected. Every child. Every day. Whatever. It. Takes. Yet the puritans looking to burn the witches may not see it as such. They want to burn every child that has committed blasphemy in their eyes.

    While it’s tough to be in the denial stage of grief, the fact remains that you’ve been conned. The superintendent sees all things through his racial panic he lives in, which a lot of his cult members do as well. Hence the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on armed security for dear leader. That expenditure was justified from other over dramatized and exaggerated claims. There will also be MANY lawsuits from this latest stunt. They came out and claimed right from the jump that this was definitely a hate crime. There was no hedging. There was no equivocation. They were openly unapologetic. Those that are sorry are the taxpayers flipping the security bill and lawsuit settlements. Lawsuits that will be aimed at the Haven principal, the superintendent, and the D65 school board, and their sham of a board meeting.

    There should be calls for resignations of all of these people. Full stop. But I am very pessimistic that we have enough engaged people in Evanston politics. We have mostly apathy here looking at the abysmal election turnouts. Maybe start telling your friends and neighbors to start paying attention. Their property values are about to drastically decline. These people in charge will simply leave us with the mess they created.

    1. Why will there be lawsuits? I’m not sure anyone really has standing to sue over this. Maybe the kid’s family if they outed their identity, but I haven’t seen anything like that.

      1. Well he openly declared it something it wasn’t right from the jump. This is a thing that happened in public and those involved were made known by people in the know in addition to that. But regardless, just because you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

        There have been posts from connected people to the admin making a lot of implications, such as discussing where parents work, etc. They’ve also talked about specific things seen in the videos. They’ve also referenced many other things that only someone with inside information would know.

        It’s pretty nieve to state that no harm was done to the accused considering the firm and deeply incorrect accusations. There was a mob of people outside of the school daily. There has been harassment of families involved both in person and certainly in that insane cesspool that is that D65 facebook page. All of these things plus much more was a direct result of the extremely irresponsible approach of the admin and the school board and the media circus that followed. Kids have missed school, people have been slandered, children have harmed, irreparable harm has been done it is most certainly actionable. There is no question in my mind that it’s been top down.

        1. I suspect that the attorney’s for Nick Sandmann (MAGA “smirk kid”) would welcome a business discussion with the family of Evanston’s “hate crime kid.”

  3. It goes without saying that the nooses are deeply offensive. The kid does need to be ALLOWED to seek redemption though. It is also racist to imply that the actions of 1 misguided kid is somehow indicative of an entire population as Horton intimated with his “deep roots” comments. Outside a D65 email, I have not heard Horton publicly weigh in on the kid who brought the loaded gun to school or the kid who brought a knife to Oakton elementary and threatened staff with it.

  4. Thanks Gene and Oakton parent. You get it. I wish the rest of Evanston would wake up. Funny to me how many people in this town deplore Donald T for being a self righteous, narcissistic cult leader who is in it for the $$ but fail to realize Horton shares those same characteristics – he’s just on the “other side” of things.

    1. I get more convinced every year that Trump (and social media) broke this place, which was kind of the whole point of Trumpism, I guess. Flood the zone until all trust and institutions are totally broken and dysfunctional. Sad state of affairs. Horton and the Board riding the same social media powered grift wave..

  5. If Horton and the D65 school board are still around in 2024, it’s a signal to get out of town. Things will only get worse. It’s one thing to have an incompetent grifters in charge of our schools, but it’s worse if voters don’t take the time and responsibility to remove them next spring. One can only conclude that we live in a town that doesn’t care about it’s kids, schools and teachers.

  6. I am ready. Horton needs to go. He cannot even admit that he was wrong to scream Hate Crime before a proper investigation. These actions do not bring our community together and they do not heal the real racial divisions that do exist in our town. We are an educated, liberal and caring community. We do not deserve this man and his cronies.

  7. How can anyone take a District 65 internal investigation of the incident seriously since Horton already publicly judged it as a “hate crime” even though the State’s Attorney and law enforcement doesn’t think that it is actually a hate crime?
    Is there a plan to release the D65 investigation findings to the public (with the appropriate anonymizing of children or witnesses)?

  8. Horton was a failure as a principal in CPS when everyone around him at the school and network level shared his racial identity. His selection process was cloaked in secrecy and led by a former colleague (Anya Tanyavutti worked for AUSL, too, everyone). It was an absolute travesty, and Tanyavutti does not receive a fraction of the criticism she deserves for the terrible and divisive job she did as Board president.

    So, why would anyone have expected him to succeed here? He failed as a principal, skipped up the ladder for a few years to land this plum job and he’s now milking the budget for everything it has to offer. Our only hope is that another district with a higher pay-scale manages to be less rigorous in its process than Evanston, which is unlikely, but you never know.

  9. If three sane adults this town volunteer to run for the D65 school board elections in April of 2023, Evanston can put a stop to this insanity. Based on the results of the April 2021 election, only a few hundred votes separated the challengers from the incumbents. If three people throw their hats in the ring now, they will have more support and organization under them than the 2021 challengers did. I know it’s a big ask, but please know that if you throw your hat in the ring, a lot of voters will rally behind you.

    1. We had that last cycle and the three sane candidates couldn’t get the plurality needed. Its the same problem with GOP primaries, only the die hards show up to vote in minor elections, so the most extreme loud people win. Election system needs reform, Biss is doing the right thing with RCV on the city level. Would be nice to see RCV for D65 too so moderates can win again.

  10. Three highly qualified and sane Evanstonians ran for District 65 School Board. They were accused of being racists, privileged and unfit. The smear campaign worked and not a one was elected; I don’t hold out much hope for change.

  11. If it’s ok in our community to out people, maybe I should drop some knowledge about certain board members and their families…nope, not gonna sink to that level.

    We need a “Fix D65” party with endorsements so we know for sure which candidates are in the cult and which are independent thinkers. I just worry people won’t want to volunteer to be bullied, to have their employers harassed, etc. the cult thinks it’s on a mission from God and all means justify an end. Sad part is with every year they are just moving farther from their (and all of our wished) end.

  12. Devon Horton is toxic and needs to go. The Board is his enabler and needs to be voted out. I do hope another three sane Evanstonians will step up and run to put the focus back on education and not misguided social activism. I for one will not sit this one out but will back such candidates with both time and money. I don’t have kids in D65 any more (they endured the Hardy Murphy years), but am ready to stand up. The future of our children (of all colors) and community is at stake.

  13. I will say it in every possible forum, though social media has proven to be a useless echo chamber, with the hope that any group of people with sense and the power to make changes will listen.

    While the adults with the authority to hire and make policy change talk and talk and talk and politicize every single thing that happens in our schools as an issue of racial attack on their person and their righteous ideologies, children are suffering and crying for help around every corner.

    EVERY SINGLE traumatic thing that happened at Haven this year was a child crying out for something that was not being provided to them. And every single time staff were asked to be quiet, patient, document behaviors into a black hole of data systems with no clear process of how they lead to necessary services. For the majority of the school year, Haven, the largest school in the district, had ONE (albeit incredible) novice social worker. ONE! This is not care and concern. This is not safety. This is adult negligence in the face of VERY real student needs.

    Positions continue to be created with reckless abandon and no clear vision and training for successful implementation or accountability. Veteran educators, who have worked successfully with students and families for sometimes decades, continue to be treated as throw aways. Curriculum initiatives are half baked or don’t exist. Everything is reactionary and political rather than child centered.

    I see many more dark days ahead and many more children suffering in the years to come while adults continue to play politics, scream at each other, and ignore what CHILDREN are saying and displaying. I hope that I am wrong.

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