Safety at school is paramount in many Belleville area residents' minds this week following a sexual assault at the Belleville East Alternative Day School Program.
A pregnant student was sexually assaulted, allegedly by 17-year-old fellow student David E. Fields. It turns out Fields is awaiting trial for another violent crime in September -- aggravated battery and illegal possession of ammunition. Court documents say Fields punched and kicked sheriff's deputies when they went to arrest him.
In our view, those previous charges should have been enough to keep him out of school. Unfortunately, public schools can expel students only for school-related bad behavior. This case should prompt lawmakers to ease that limit. The priority should be keeping students and staff safe rather than protecting the rights of a potentially dangerous student.
In addition, school officials need to beef up security at the alternative program.
Superintendent Jeff Dosier wrote to parents: "We will be reviewing our current security measures and procedures to see if there is anything further we can do to implement additional safety measures."
If there is anything? A sexual assault happened on campus in the middle of the afternoon. Either current security measures are inadequate and need improvement, or someone failed to do his or her job and adequately monitor Fields.
Dosier has promised a full investigation. When he knows what went wrong, he needs to provide a detailed accounting to the community and take corrective measures. Until that happens, expect people to remain uneasy.