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Curie Principal Promises To Add Alarms, Cameras And More Staff After A Student Brought A Gun To School

Curie's principal said school leaders tracked down the student and took the gun within minutes.

Curie High School's Local School Council held a special meeting Thursday to have officials address school safety concerns.
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ARCHER HEIGHTS — A Southwest Side high school is boosting security after a student brought a gun into the building earlier this week.

About 9:30 a.m. Monday, officers responded to a report of a 15-year-old boy with a gun inside Curie High School, 4959 S. Archer Ave., police said. No one was injured inside the school, and the teen was arrested and charged with a felony, police spokesperson Kellie Bartoli said.

Curie called a special local school council meeting Thursday to discuss the incident. Principal Homero Penuelas said the teen accused of bringing the gun is a student, and another student alerted school leaders about the teen possibly having a weapon.

Penuelas said the school is going to make changes to address community members’ concerns about school safety, including installing additional cameras and alarms on doors and trying to staff as many people as possible to guard doors.

“This building was built at a time when safety was not a priority,” Penuelas said. “It’s a huge building — 3,000 students — but we have 40 doors around the school. There are some doors that we know students have come in and out of that they’re not supposed to be using. We have moved security around.”

Penuelas and CPS officials declined to answer questions about how the teen entered the school with a gun. Students are required to enter Curie through certain doors to go through metal detectors, CPS officials confirmed.

But Penuelas said there are logistical problems with staffing all the doors, including not having sufficient security on hand every day. He said the school has 15-16 security guards, seven paid by CPS and the rest paid with the school’s budget, but he hopes to hire more people.

Curie’s school council voted 7-4 to remove school resource officers from the school in 2020. Some community members brought up the possibility about bringing one or more officers back into the building at Thursday’s meeting.

Some parents and teachers also said they were frustrated by the lack of clarity as to why the school didn’t go on lockdown during the incident.

Penuelas didn’t address questions brought up about bringing officers to the school, but he defended the choice not to put the school into lockdown because officials knew the student who was rumored to have the gun and where he was. Penuelas said a lockdown would be called in a situation where the danger is unknown, or when the school is directed to do so.

“It was less than five minutes for us to have the student — much less than five minutes — for us to have the student and the weapon in our possession,” Penuelas said.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is 5 p.m. Tuesday.

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