Student leaders at York High School in Elmhurst are urging classmates to work toward solutions to prevent bullying rather than walk out of class Friday.
Some students were organizing a walkout in response to an altercation involving a student with special needs. The Dec. 8 incident was captured on cellphone videos.
The videos appear to show the student with special needs being pushed and falling to the ground in a school bathroom. The student then walks into a bathroom stall as other students are laughing.
“In lieu of a walkout, many of us believe that the best way to go about this is to focus on it from the inside out,” read the statement from student leadership, who were not named. “This problem must be tackled at the source and prevented from ever happening again by coming together as a school and educating one another.”
Student leadership team members plan to address the Elmhurst Unit District 205 school board in January about potential changes or programs to help promote awareness and inclusiveness.
The statement also said student leaders are planning fundraisers to have educational assemblies at the high school and middle schools.
The student group encouraged students to use the experience to educate themselves and get involved.
“It is time for our feelings of anger and disgust to evolve into the actions that will foster a better, kinder learning environment for everyone,” the statement read.
A news release from the Elmhurst Police Department issued Tuesday said investigators reviewed footage from two cellphone videos of the incident. The videos show five students, including the student with special needs, engaging in “willful physical contact,” according to the release.
Police said three of the five students, including the one with special needs, are members of the high school’s wrestling team.
A student who is not on the wrestling team is the one who appears to push the student with special needs, according to the police department’s news release.
The family of the student with special needs declined further police involvement in the situation. Counseling was offered to all students, authorities said.
The video sparked outrage from students, district administrators, school board members and other community leaders. At a county board meeting on Tuesday, DuPage County Board Chairwoman Deb Conroy decried the incident and read a statement from a parent who encouraged students to use the opportunity to make positive changes.