The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

Another director of campus security resigns

Former OPPD officer Traccye Love is 3rd OPRF security head to quit in 2 years

Traccye Love, the third director of campus safety at Oak Park and River Forest High School in the past two years, has resigned. Her last day was April 12, ending a tenure of fewer than five months.

Love is leaving due to personal reasons, she said, adding that the decision was “definitely one that was hard to make. It does bring me some level of sadness, and I’m really going to miss the OPRF community.”A community member and OPRF parent, Love previously worked with the Oak Park Police Department. “I feel like this role is challenging,” said Love. “However, it was a challenge that I was looking forward to addressing.”

Love announced her resignation through an email to OPRF faculty and staff on April 1, which read, “I understand that usually personnel information is initially approved by the Board before being publicly announced. However, the district has been made aware that the Wednesday Journal intends to publish this information soon. We thought it would be best for ‘staffulty’ to hear it directly from me first.”

Campus Safety and Support Officer Bobby Mahaffey on Wednesday, April 24.

In an interview, Love said she was unsure of how the Wednesday Journal knew about her plans to step down. “I actually don’t know how they found out. But when I was told that they had gotten some information that I was possibly resigning, I then confirmed that with them,” saidLove.

The Wednesday Journal story, which ran on April 3, focused on an online threat against OPRF that led to two Secure and Teach protocols on Wednesday, Feb. 14. The threat was determined not to be credible, according to school officials. However, it disrupted the school day and caused confusion and fear, prompting a review by the Board of Education (see below).

David Narain, assistant principal of operations at OPRF, also said the Secure and Teach had nothing to do with Love’s decision to resign. “I can say that with full certainty that there is no relationship,” Narain said. “It actually has absolutely nothing to do with anything regarding the school, and everything to do with her own personal circumstances…I do believe with full sincerity that when she came into the position she believed that she would be in it for a long time.”

Initially, Love said, she intended to

stay on until the end of the school year to allot adequate time to find her replacement, but during her last week “a recent development within the district obliged me to amend my resignation date.”

The position has been hard to fill over the last two years. Cindy Guerra, Love’s predecessor, stepped down before even completing her first semester, and Guerra’s predecessor, Cherylynn Jones-McLeod, only lasted a year. Both of them also said they left for personal reasons.

That poses the question: why is it so difficult to keep someone in this job?

“It’s a highly stressful position,” said Narain. “They’re tasked with maintaining the safety of a very large building and a large amount of students and staff.”

The Assistant Superintendent and Principal Lynda Parker agreed, saying “Each of them had remarked [on] the challenges [of ] trying to secure a building that has over 3,500 people using it every day.”

In regard to Love’s departure, students had mixed reactions. Josie Badrinath, a junior, said that she feels safe at school overall. “I think it’s a stressful job, and that is mostly responsible for the changes in security,” she said.

Junior Bryce Richards agreed, saying, “I feel pretty safe.”

Jenny Keane, also a junior, was less sure. “Security feels really unstable. I don’t know why the head of security keeps changing,” she said. “I just want to feel safe at school.”

The next director of campus safety should help to build that sense of security in the community according to Narain. “The best thing we can do to promote confidence with the school community in general is to get a really strong candidate who instills that confidence,” he said.

Campus Safety and Support Officer Ashley Jones on Wednesday, April 24.

Narain’s job was created when he was hired in October, and he is planning to reevaluate the responsibilities of the director of campus safety role in order to alleviate some of the stress for Love’s replacement. “Now that I’m here I can kind of share some of the responsibilities of the position,” he said. “Also, since I’m in a direct supervisor position, I can guide the way that that person fills a role.”

The job description may shift, according to Narain. OPRF administrators will “look at the job definition and based on our experience over the course of this year, look at whether we could adjust some of the responsibilities of the job,” he said.

One of the primary jobs of the director of campus safety is to act as a liaison between the school and emergency services. Beyond that, “we need somebody that enjoys working with kids,” said Narain. “It’s a big concern in the community that we don’t want our students to feel like they’re being policed.”

The search for Love’s replacement is underway, Narain added. “We should be able to work on interviewing during the month of May and have the person in the position sometime in the month of June,” he said. “Combined with Principal Parker and the rest of the interview team, I’m pretty confident that we’ll find somebody this go round that’s in it for the long term.”

Parker said they were looking for “someone who has a safety focus, so actually knows what it takes to secure a building of our size. Also, someone who has access and knowledge about training campus safety staff, so that they can carry out their duties as effectively as possible.” She also noted it was important for the hire to know “how to build relationships with students and staff.”

Love noted that security requires support from the whole community. “The safety of this building is more than just the responsibility of just the people that work here,” she said. “Everyone has to play a role to keep this building safe and keep everyone in it safe. Everyone needs to buy in.”

Additional reporting by Elianna Casselle, Mary Andolina and Sophia Lynn.

 

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