Security guard Joshua Margalus looks out over the learning commons.
Security guard Joshua Margalus looks out over the learning commons.
Sebastian Blanco

Discipline at DGS: Change in consequences, increase in infractions

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The graph shows disciplinary actions taken for drug use in 2015, 2019 and 2023.
The graph shows disciplinary actions taken for drug use in 2015, 2019 and 2023. (Sumit Shah)
Drugs and alcohol: Repercussions case-by-case

Drug use for high school students has been an increasing issue, especially due to the ever-rising popularity of e-cigarettes or vaping devices. According to the Food and Drug Administration, as of 2022-2023, 2.1 million youth use e-cigarettes. The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics reports that almost 40% of high school students have reported trying marijuana.

Drug use has been prominent at DGS as well. Security guard Josh Margalus shared his experience with students vaping in school, primarily in the bathrooms.

“So I’ll give you a per week number, and it’s going to sound alarming… I would say 10 or so a week, but… it’s the same kids being pulled in two or three times in a week. Now, what that says about what happens after they are brought into the dean’s office? I don’t really have an opinion on that,” Margalus said.

According to data provided by administration, there were 34 in-school interventions for vaping during the 2022-2023 school year, while there were only 14 in the 2017-2018 school year. Clearly, the vaping epidemic is on a rise, which raises the question: What consequences are issued to control drug usage at DGS?

Dean Angela Earwood, on behalf of Dr. Karen Taylor and the team of deans, laid out the course of action taken when a student is found with drugs at school. The first priority is having the student evaluated by the nurse, if there is reason to believe that their safety is a concern. Then the student is interviewed, offered the opportunity to provide a written statement and a parent/guardian is notified.

Student assistance program coordinator Antonia Stamatoukos is also notified. She contacts the student’s family to provide information about getting “outside agencies” involved and regularly follows up with the student after the violation. The deans also included the spectrum of more severe to less severe when deciding a punishment “based on the severity” of a drug offense.

“Factors that we consider when assessing the severity of a drug-related offense include: scope of the impact on the student and others, whether this was a first or subsequent violation, whether other violations were committed at the same time, whether the student in possession/under the influence or distributing, whether the student is involved in activities or athletics subject to the 24/7 code of conduct and other relevant factors that are unique to the offense,” Earwood said.

Each drug offense is determined on a case-by-case basis, meaning that alcohol and drugs are treated the same when determining consequences. Administration explained that typically, the least severe consequence is assignment to the PATH program, social probation and referral for an assessment; however, the most severe consequence would result in a recommendation for expulsion.

The deans work inside of deans and attendance where the consequences for infractions are decided.
Judgement calls: Administration dishes out verdicts

Students can receive many consequences for actions that go against the student handbook, such as a detention, in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension or in extreme cases, expulsion. These punishments are given to students based on the determination of the dean or administrator that is responsible for them.

“The first people who look at [the student’s behavior] and assess and determine are our deans. It’s rare that I am consulted, but it certainly does happen,” Principal Arwen Lyp said.

The District 99 Student Parent Handbook contains the guidelines and rules for school discipline. The handbook is created and edited by different members of the district community.

“Revisions in the student handbook are started by members of the administrative team from both schools. These are then brought to the Parent Teacher Advisory Committee each spring and are reviewed in a meeting where parents, staff and students may attend and offer feedback. Finally, they are brought to the Board of Education each summer for final approval,” Superintendent Dr. Hank Thiele said.

The handbook separates inappropriate student actions into two categories: Category A offenses and Category B offenses.

Category A offenses are more trivial and include infractions such as wrongful use of technology and having too many unexcused absences.

Category B offenses are serious and involve issues such as drugs, alcohol, weapons and violence. Depending on the severity of this type of offense, police involvement or an expulsion can occur.

In the handbook, each consequence for the offenses is prefaced with the guideline “depending on the seriousness and/or frequency,” meaning that the punishment for student misconduct is decided by a judgment call of the staff member handling the case.

Associate Principal for Staff and Students Dr. Karen Taylor oversees student discipline and is the head of the deans.

“We look at everything on a case-by-case basis. The things that we consider are the actual infraction, the impact it had on the school learning environment and the pattern of previous behaviors from that student,” Taylor said.

Deans and administrators in charge of reprimanding the student use these factors to determine an adequate punishment.

By and large I guess you would probably call it a judgment call, but it’s an informed judgment call based on all of the circumstances that surround [student misconduct] based on how widespread the issue became.”

— Dr. Karen Taylor

The deans work inside of deans and attendance where the consequences for infractions are decided. (Juliana Conyer)
Bathrooms have been locked before and after school due to an influx in fights.
Students fight their way to punishment

Screams and shouts echo through the hallways as students rush towards the chaos, phones recording in their hands. Two students tussle with each other in the center of the crowd, throwing punches and knocking one another down. As the roars of the students get louder, security guards run into the pandemonium and pry the students apart.

A typical high school fight doesn’t last very long, but they attract lots of attention from students and leave many wondering how fights are handled after students are dragged away. It depends on the case, but punishments could include in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, alternative school placement, criminal charges or expulsion.

Consequences for all students involved in the fight are fairly equal across the board. Dr. Bryan Heap, a dean at DGS, explained that regardless of who started it, fighting is punished.

“Generally, it depends case-by-case, but if students are actively fighting, which means they’re both swinging and punching, they’re not blocking or trying to get away, it’s likely to be very equal when it comes to consequences. In the past, it was always three to five days suspended in or out-of-school, possible charges, and it really didn’t matter if someone swung first. Because we always hear, ‘I was defending myself,’ but it’s hard in this school to determine who was defending themselves and who provoked it, so in general if you’re fighting, there’s going to be consequences,” Heap said.

Punishments have evolved over the years. Heap discussed the school’s past zero-tolerance policy and how it’s changed to be unique for every case.

“I think maybe 10, 15 years ago a lot of things were much more zero tolerance. Any fighting was 10 days suspension, arrested, transported to the police station, parents picked them up at the station; that was just kind of standard. Where I think the way the law and school policy have evolved it’s much more on a case-by-case basis, where depending on what happened maybe one student who truly didn’t start it has a lesser amount of days or consequences and the other student who was maybe more provoking or violent has additional consequences,” Heap said.

The amount of fighting has gone up since these policy changes. 10 years ago, in the 2013-2014 school year, there were 17 incidents of violence with physical injury and 0 incidents of violence without physical injury. Five years later, in the 2018-2019 school year, there were 36 incidents of violence with physical injury and 33 incidents of violence without.

Finally, in the 2021-2022 school year, there were 40 incidents of violence with physical injury and 40 incidents of violence without physical injury. These numbers show a clear increase in occurrences as the years go on.

Students might view fights differently than staff members, though. Junior Kian Scheck has seen many fights at DGS and reflected on how students and staff reacted.

“[The other students] were just bystanders; they sat and watched, and no one jumped in and started throwing fists with them. … [Security] handled it pretty well, that’s why I’m kind of in awe of it. It used to be only the teachers that would do something, but now the security guards are getting more involved,” Scheck said.

Security guards have gone through CPI training, a kind of crisis training that involves going “hands-on” with students when necessary. Josh Margalus, a security guard at DGS, taught martial arts for 10 years and explained what different situations between students might require the guards to do.

“Now, it’s always different, we have situations where a student is upset and threatening violence or can become violent, we have ways to deal with that. …If there are two parties actively fighting, the use is more liberal because you have a student who is actively harming or trying to harm another student, so it’s pretty much whatever you can do to get them apart to minimize harm to everybody. So they go through a whole training thing with that, and all of the security guards have different backgrounds; for example, I come from a martial arts background; I taught martial arts in Naperville for ten years, and I have my own repertoire of things I’ve been showing around as well,” Margalus said.

Bathrooms have been locked before and after school due to an influx in fights. (Sebastian Blanco)
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Sabrina Crowley, Copy Editor
Senior Sabrina Crowley is so excited for her first year on the Blueprint staff as a Copy Editor. As the daughter of two English teachers, Crowley has loved writing for as long as she can remember. However, her interest sparked in her freshman year when she joined the speech team and found love in writing about various topics that she is interested in. Now, Crowley is about to begin her final season on the speech team after competing for three years, including in the IHSA Speech State Series. She has a passion for theater and enjoys being in the plays and musicals. She is the current vice president of Masque and Gavel and loves to sing, whether it be solo or with her friends in choir. In the future, Crowley hopes to study musical theater in college. She loves New York City and dreams of living there. When she is not busy with school, work or activities, you will most likely find Crowley reading, listening to music or spending time with friends.
Sebastian Blanco, Features Editor
Junior Sebastian Blanco is a Features Editor in his first year on the DGS Blueprint staff. In addition to journalism, Blanco is a member of the DGS varsity speech team, Madrigal choir and is deeply involved with the drama department as a whole. While he did not take Journalistic Expression, his love of writing and encouragement from friends enticed him to take the course. When not at school (which is almost never), you may find Blanco playing Magic: The Gathering at a local game store, out driving with friends or rewatching Glee for the eighth time. While the school year doesn’t offer much time for a job, Blanco loves spending his summers working at the Brookfield Park District as a camp counselor. While Blanco has always loved entertaining others through performance, he is excited to put that passion down on paper as a member of the Blueprint Staff.
Juliana Conyer, Managing Editor
Junior Juliana Conyer is the Managing Editor in her first year on the Blueprint staff. Besides journalism, Conyer is a part of book club, varsity speech team, PE Leading program and is a vice president of student council. Conyer was a part of the 2023 Journalism IHSA team and took first place at the sectional competition for yearbook caption writing. She advanced to state and became the champion in the event. Conyer was also a member of the 2023 DGS Speech Individual Events team and made it to the sectional finals of the state series. Conyer’s journalism experience began at the beginning of her freshman year, when she joined the Blueprint club as a freelance writer. She then went on to take the Journalistic Expression class her sophomore year to enhance her journalism skills. In her free time, Conyer enjoys spending time with her younger siblings, reading, listening to music and watching new movies. Additionally, she has a passion for creative writing and public speaking. Conyer hopes to pursue a career in writing.
Maya Homberg, Editor-in-Chief
Senior Maya Homberg is an Editor-in-Chief, and this is her second year on the Blueprint staff. Homberg is an honor roll student and has been swimming for over 10 years. At DGS, she is the president of NHS and also takes part in ACE, Spanish NHS, Earth Action Club and Key Club. Homberg joined journalism club during her sophomore year and has always shown a passion for reading and writing. She placed third at 2023 IHSA State in copy editing and was also selected as one of 13 Illinois students to be on the 2023 IJEA All-State Team. On top of this, Homberg has won a Best of Sno and multiple writing competitions, including IJEA Best Sports Feature Story. In her free time, Homberg enjoys hanging out with friends, baking and traveling. She loves visiting other countries but dreams of seeing all fifty states. Homberg is looking forward to sharing her opinions and entertaining others through her writing.
Sumit Shah, Graphics/Photo Editor
Senior Sumit Shah is a Graphics/Photos Editor on the Blueprint staff. In addition to being part of the Blueprint staff, Shah has also been a part of the DGS speech team since his sophomore year. He has participated in the 3D Visualization portion of the SkillsUSA contest his sophomore and junior year. Outside of Blueprint, Shah spends his time listening to music and binge watching shows on Netflix. Shah found a love for drawing and designing in 6th grade and hasn’t stopped ever since. He always looks for new and abstract ideas to draw, looking for a way to reach the viewer’s heart. Shah hopes to keep improving his design and writing skills during his time on the Blueprint Staff.

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