Jefferson High School Aftermath

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

This was the scene at Jefferson High School Wednesday. Multiple student fights broke out during lunch hour. Students say the violence stemmed from their principal, Kenneth Jackson's, suspension.
"Most of the people are fighting just because of the fact that Dr. Jackson's not here and they feel that's the number one thing they're going to have to do to prove they want him back," says Jefferson Junior Erica Jones.
Rockford's interim superintendent Linda Hernandez suspended Jackson Tuesday pending an investigation into hundreds of grades he changed from fail to pass last year, because he said parents had not been told their kids were failing.
Students walked out of class Wednesday morning in a school-approved, peaceful protest against the suspension.
"Some people were very appropriate and some took advantage of the situation. Once that happened it created some further problems," says Hernandez.
One student was minorly injured during the fighting and one other was arrested for resisting arrest and throwing a pop can at an officer. Police say there were no weapons found.
Around 12:30, school leaders decided to end class and evacuate the school's 2,000 students. Busses and parents came to pick kids up.
"She called me on her cell phone and I said they're kicking everybody out? What happened?" says one Jefferson parent Sylvia Lewis.
Many parents were upset school leaders did not contact them directly.
"At that time we were trying to keep the kids safe. As soon as we were able to talk to people we told the information," says Hernandez.
To prevent a similar scene Thursday, there will be added police at Jefferson all day.
"I can answer unequivocably that their child will be safe tomorrow and we will respond with appropriate resources and will respond with whatever need the superintendent or the school has," says Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson.
Epperson adds students starting trouble again Thursday would more than likely face criminal consequences.
Hernandez will not comment about Jackson's suspension. Jackson said in a phone interview he wants kids to focus on school and behave as they would if he were still in the building. He adds rumors he's considering leaving the district to follow former superintendent Dennis Thompson are untrue.
Rockford police are reviewing security tapes to determine who started the fights. Hernandez says there will be disciplinary action and possibly criminal charges against the insitigators. Parents will receive letters Thursday explaining exactly what happened Wednesday.


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  • by terri mom of sph. at jhs Location: rockford on Sep 17, 2007 at 08:14 AM
    iam sorry to see this kind of violence at school,it is supposed to be a place of learning,if certain people are not there to grow and learn maybe they should be asked to leave the school,it is not fair for the kids who are there to get an education,my daughter has been faced with problems with fighting just because she bumped into someone in the hallway,i forbid her to fight,but there is a down side to this she has to take a punching so not to be sent home on detention for three days, there needs to be better hall monitoring alot is going on that the teenagers are afraid to speak up because of retailiation from more violent students maybe they need to start listening to some of the students and parents what they have to say about the violence in their school.
  • by Lori Location: Machesney Park on Sep 13, 2007 at 08:37 PM
    I have yet to even hear anyone mention that it is district policy that says a student cannot be given a failing grade if parents arent notified in advance. If anyone should be under review it is the teachers that didnt notify the parents and not this principal. I am tired of hearing of hearing how Principal Jackson's decision to change the grades lowered teacher moral. As a parent who deliberately moved her children out of the district because of these types of problems, I hate seeing a principal who does such a good job get such guff over doing what is right. I hate seeing him in trouble while the teachers who are actually at fault have no reprimands against them. I love teachers! They have an amazing and very difficult job. It's a lot of work. However, if they are in it for the pay check, go find other work. If they are there to help the kids and to teach, then teach and dont get upset if they goof and the problem has to be fixed in a less than satisfactory manner.
  • by Chelsey Location: jhs on Sep 13, 2007 at 05:57 PM
    this is a very serious issue that hit my school on 9/12 and it should be the headline to all the news, but not if the whole truth isnt there. if there wasnt weapons involved, then tell me how a kid got stabbed and how another got one held against his throat??? i dont really kno how i feel about the whole dr.Jackson issue. changing the grades is totally unfair to all of us who actually try to get good grades.if dr. jackson is only here for a certain amount of time, then what is going to happen when he leaves? is thiswhat i have to look forward too?....or worse? i think him leaving is just an excuse for the students to be able to do what they want to....again. someone will have to deal with the main issue at hand here....which is school violence.or this will only get worse and god only knows what our future holds. what will my future children have to deal with??
  • by Kim Location: Rockford on Sep 13, 2007 at 05:49 PM
    I am appalled at the situation at Jefferson. Dr. Jackson made a mistake; however, in the two years we've been in Rockford, Jefferson is a much better institution than it was with the previous principal. The children respect Dr. Jackson as a leader and authority figure. I only have one attending Jefferson right now. My other child graduated this Summer. He was 2 points short of graduating with his class. 2 points! He had to pay $175.00 out of his own pocket to go to Summer School! Regardless, he is a better person because of Dr. Jackson. My son looked up to and respected him. Bring him back and stop this madness. I didn't send my daughter today and I might not tomorrow. We moved here from a Southern state two years ago. We used to pay 1/4 the taxes we do now. The taxes we paid down there went into the schools! Where is it going here? Why can't kids take books home? There aren't enough to go around? Why are there no metal detectors? There should be with the KNOWN gang violence!
  • by Soph Mom JHS Location: Rockford on Sep 13, 2007 at 04:35 PM
    I don't agree with everything Dr. Jackson has done at Jefferson. I also don't agree with the decision to reinvestigate the grade changes from last school year, since that issue was resolved, by the previous Superintendant. Any employee of Dist. 205, who's been cleared of questionable conduct by Dr. Thompson, must be seriously distracted by the decision to reinvestigate Dr. Jackson. All of the unnecessary distraction of those, who we trust to educate and guide our children, can only have a negative impact on the whole district. I urge the board of education to think long and hard about the precident, they are allowing to be set here, and about making a permanent offer of the Superindendant position, to someone, who demonstrates such irresponsible judgement. It is evident that Dr. Jackson's overall impact on the school, has been positive. He done a lot towards restoring and maintaining a decent learning environment at JHS. He's clearly the glue that keeps JHS moving forward.
  • by Bob Again Location: Rockford on Sep 13, 2007 at 03:29 PM
    Afraid to post my comments from last night ? You know I am right !
  • by Anonymous. Location: Rockford. on Sep 13, 2007 at 03:08 PM
    I was in the whole situation at Jefferson High. I believe they were trying to make a point. With him here, everything was calm. Last year {my sophmore year} was awsome; not too many fights; and everything was ok. 2 years ago; {my freshman year} when Mrs.Bua was principal;EVERTHING WAS CRAZY!!!!!! SHE HAD NO CONTROL OVER HER STUDENTS! And Dr. Jackson was doing a good job at it; All we want is Dr. Jakson back. He always does the right thing, and with changing the grades helped out alot of students. So please just give us Dr. Jackson back because without him; we are nothing!
  • by Sarah Location: Jefferson on Sep 13, 2007 at 12:35 PM
    Im a student at Jefferson and Dr. Jackson is one of the biggest father figures I have had in my life. He has taught me so much and helped me get this far. if it wasnt for him, I know I would have dropped out by now if it wasn't for him. All the news stations have had dumb people who didnt even know Dr. Jackson talking about how they feel... you need to ask REAL people who KNOW him... NOT fake people who just want to be on tv. As for people who who think Dr. Jackson should be punished for something that happened last year... You need to start looking at what he has done for us.... BRING DR. JACKSON BACK!!!!
  • by Sherry Location: Loves Park on Sep 13, 2007 at 12:11 PM
    And so the kids couldn't just get a petition signed by students,parents and staff to present to the school district?To approve a walk-out was a poor choice for protesting.And if Dr. Jackson is a good leader and role model,certain kids showed their contempt for him in what they did in fighting!All gang members need to be kicked out and let their parents be responsible for their education.Just get them away from the good students.Kids will be kids and that is why parents need to be parents.Now is the time that kids should learn that life isn't always fair and its up to them to take the high road when it isn't.Those making a statement through fighting only showed contempt for all Dr.Jackson has worked so hard at.What a shame!
  • by M Location: Rockford on Sep 13, 2007 at 11:54 AM
    Maybe someone should look at Ms Hernandez and WHY SHE DID THIS, maybe because Dr Jackson was the only other person in Rockford that is qualified to take the job of superintendent away from her and the best way to get rid of the competition is to blacken their name--so let's retry Dr Jackson on the same crime TWICE. Our kids should the be first thought but we all know that this doesn't ring true with all. As far as not going to school today TODAY IS THE SAFEST DAY IN THE YEAR - the school board, the police and the school system all looked BBBAADD!!! yesterday and today there will be more security that bees on honey. As for kids getting stabbed or shot - none of the kids in my group saw anything like that and we werein the middle of all of it. I do know that more got arrested than one as I saw 3 or 4 handcuffed. And the parents should realize that the school can't call every parent personally, we have what 2100 kids please be real. Just send us back Dr Jackson. Hernandez can go
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