George Washington Middle School, Lyons | Courtesy of GWMS

All of the classrooms at George Washington Middle School in Lyons have red buttons that are supposed to be used in an emergency to communicate directly with the school’s main office via the PA system. 

But many of those buttons do not work, apparently. 

Stephen Kimmey, an eighth-grade math teacher at GWMS who has worked in Lyons-Brookfield District 103 for nearly three decades, discovered that the emergency button in his classroom didn’t work earlier this year when a student in one of his classes had a medical emergency.

Teachers who rushed into Kimmey’s classroom to help out with the medical emergency pressed the red button to contact the main office, but nothing happened. They then went to the classroom next door but discovered that classroom’s red emergency button didn’t work either. 

The school nurse eventually was notified, and the student was taken away in an ambulance and apparently recovered.

Kimmey said that he subsequently found out that the red emergency button in a seventh-grade classroom also didn’t work during a medical emergency earlier this school year and that many of the classroom emergency buttons don’t work at the school. 

Kimmey alerted the District 103 Board of Education to the problem when he made a public comment about the issue at the April 10 school board meeting.

“Since that time, I’ve found out that none of our red buttons upstairs in our middle school are working,” Kimmey told the school board. 

Another GWMS teacher, who asked not to be identified because they feared retaliation, told the Landmark that the emergency button in their classroom doesn’t work either and that many emergency buttons at the school do not work.

Kimmey told the school board that when another teacher informed the school’s maintenance director of the issue, she was told that he was aware of the problem and that it is a priority, but that there is a supply issue and the district has not received the part needed to fix the problem. 

According to Kimmey, the teacher was told that the system would be fixed over the summer, which is what Director of Buildings and Grounds Dan Trapp also told the Landmark. 

That isn’t good enough for Kimmey.

“This isn’t acceptable,” Kimmey told the school board. “You cannot guarantee me or the other teachers, students or the families of our district that there won’t be another emergency at our middle school during this next, last, two months. Replacing parts should have been placed on highest priority months ago and the system should have been fixed.”

Kimmey said the system should be fixed within the next two weeks.

Superintendent Kristopher Rivera declined to comment when asked about his reaction to Kimmey’s comments.