metal detector program. Up until that point it was a tough sell…. The metal detector program flew off from that day on. All the excuses, all the talk about manning them, and the searches, all the different problems, from November 1992 and on, it was no longer a problem.” Tilden’s Principal Steward remembers the period somewhat differently, recalling that about five high schools still declined to install metal detectors after the shooting and complied only when they were required to do so. The Board of Education (Chicago Reporter, 1998) spent about $200,000 of its own funds on metal detectors from 1993 to 1998.

The support of the Board of Education and the LSCs was buttressed further by the Chicago City Council. Less than a week after the Tilden shooting, the council approved Mayor Daley’s resolution that urged schools without metal detectors to take advantage of the offer to provide a detector to any school that wanted one. The Chicago Tribune reported some aldermen at the meeting “blasted school officials who have not installed the devices or are using them selectively.”


The implementation of metal detectors was the first of a series of security and disciplinary initiatives endorsed by the school superintendent and the Chicago Board of Education. In 1995, the Board of Education adopted a new Uniform Disciplinary Code that mandated suspension and expulsion for certain offenses. The new policy was in response to the reauthorization of the federal Gun-Free Schools Act, which required states to pass laws requiring schools to expel for at least a year students who brought weapons to school. The Chicago Board of Education, like others across the country, saw this as the time to revise the Uniform Disciplinary Code, creating mandatory minimum penalties, often including extended suspensions for a variety of offenses, and requiring police referrals for serious instances of assault, battery, disorderly conduct, and other minor offenses and all instances of gang activity, drug violations, and more serious offenses. The resulting set of mandated punishments became collectively and popularly known as the zero tolerance policy.

In subsequent years, the board further increased the penalties for certain offenses. Paul Vallas, who was Mayor Daley’s 1995 choice for superintendent of Chicago’s public schools, took a leadership role in advocating tough new penalties and policies. In spring 1997, with the encouragement of Vallas, the City Council made student involvement in drug and other serious offenses committed off school grounds subject to expulsion (March 11, 1997). In addition, in 1996 the board passed a resolution mandating that each school adopt a dress code and consider school

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