ST. ANN, Mo. – The Pattonville School District is expected to announce changes to its policy for attending high school football games after panic among spectators led to Friday night’s game with Ritenour High School being canceled.
FOX 2 has learned multiple St. Louis-area districts have been changing their policies in recent years because of concerns about violence.
Multiple people were shot at a game in Choctaw, Oklahoma, on Friday night. A 16-year-old student spectator there was killed. The same night, students ran en masse from the Pattonville-Ritenour game in St. Louis County. There was no gunfire, but fear led to panic.
“There was a disturbance with some kids. Police officers asked those students to leave. They just took off running,” Pattonville Superintendent Dr. Barry Nelson said. “Kids saw them running, chased after them. It ultimately resulted in us needing to go ahead and cancel the game just out of an abundance of caution.”
Pattonville has both police and private security at games but is now refining its attendance policy ahead of Friday’s home game against Kirkwood.
When O’Fallon Township High School moved its Friday night football game to Saturday because of the heat, the district also sent out a reminder about its event attendance policy. You may not be able to simply drop your kids off at the game anymore.
“We’re just not going to have fighting on our campus. We’re not going to have violence on our campus of any kind,” OTHS Superintendent Dr. Darcy Benway said.
O’Fallon and its fellow Southwestern Conference Schools, including Belleville-West, Edwardsville, and East St. Louis, only allow students from participating schools to attend events like football games with a school ID. Students from other schools can attend, but only with a parent or guardian. No bags or backpacks are allowed (certain schools do allow clear bags).
“The Blues games, Cardinal games—there are policies in every venue,” Benway said. “It’s just now gotten to the high school level. I think people expect that. They’re okay with it. They want to feel safe and secure. The purpose of our policy is to make sure everybody coming to our campus has a great experience here.”
The trend is certainly spreading. For instance, Parkway Schools allow only students from participating schools to attend events, and St. Louis City Public Schools have a clear bag only/no backpack policy.