15 CPS schools de­cide to keep cops so far, but more than 50 yet to vote

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY NADER ISSA AND MATTHEW HEN­DRICK­SON Staff Re­porters

In the first few weeks of vot­ing, a to­tal of 15 Lo­cal School Coun­cils have de­cided to keep the po­lice of­fi­cers sta­tioned in their build­ings and three have opted to re­move them as dozens of schools are weigh­ing a crit­i­cal de­ci­sion on an is­sue at the cen­ter of na­tional debate.

Roberto Clemente Com­mu­nity Acad­emy in Ukrainian Vil­lage was the lat­est school to make its de­ci­sion, vot­ing 9-1 Mon­day even­ing to kick out its of­fi­cers in the fall and be­com­ing the third school to do so.

Daniel Marre, a par­ent rep­re­sen­ta­tive on Clemente’s LSC, said the vote was “noth­ing per­sonal against the of­fi­cers who were as­signed to Clemente” and was more about ad­her­ing to the school’s val­ues.

“It’s not nec­es­sar­ily that a kid is fun­da­men­tally bad and needs to get tossed into the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem,” Marre said. “It could be as sim­ple as trauma in the com­mu­nity, trauma in the home. It could be as sim­ple as a stu­dent hasn’t had a meal for a cou­ple of days. So we’re very fo­cused on re­solv­ing so­cial prob­lems with so­cial jus­tice, not crim­i­nal jus­tice. And hav­ing [of­fi­cers] in the school is not con­sis­tent with our restora­tive jus­tice, our so­cial jus­tice, model.”

In de­clin­ing calls to end a $33 mil­lion con­tract be­tween Chicago Pub­lic Schools and the Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment, Mayor Lori Light­foot and district lead­er­ship have ar­gued that the de­ci­sion on school po­lice is best left in the hands of in­di­vid­ual LSCs — made up of elected par­ents, staff, com­mu­nity mem­bers, the prin­ci­pal and a lone stu­dent — be­cause they best know their own school en­vi­ron­ment.

The debate over school po­lice comes in the midst of mas­sive, na­tion­wide protests against po­lice bru­tal­ity and sys­temic racism af­ter the po­lice killing of Ge­orge Floyd in Min­neapo­lis. Many stu­dents and ac­tivists for years have asked for of­fi­cers to be re­moved from schools be­cause they dis­pro­por­tion­ately lead to the be­hav­ior of stu­dents of color be­ing crim­i­nal­ized, and Black stu­dents par­tic­u­larly be­ing put in the so-called “school-to-prison pipeline.”

But some com­mu­ni­ties still feel that the uni­formed Chicago po­lice of­fi­cers at more than 70 high schools of­fer a level of pro­tec­tion to stu­dents and staff. Out of the 15 schools that de­cided to keep their of­fi­cers, 10 LSCs made that choice unan­i­mously, ac­cord­ing to CPS records pub­lished on­line late Friday.

That in­cludes Mar­shall Metropoli­tan High School on the West Side, de­spite a highly pub­li­cized in­ci­dent in which a stu­dent was dragged down the stairs and hit with a stun gun by the of­fi­cers at the school last year.

Lau­ren­tio Howard, whose daugh­ter Dnigma’s en­counter with a pair of school of­fi­cers was cap­tured on video and drew na­tional at­ten­tion to the is­sue of po­lice in schools, first found out about the de­ci­sion at Mar­shall when con­tacted by a Chicago Sun-Times re­porter.

“I’m upset about that. It’s like, I don’t know, like a slap in the face, re­ally,” Howard said. “I mean, they’re go­ing to vote to keep them in there af­ter what they did to my daugh­ter? It seems like they didn’t re­ally care.”

Mem­bers of the Mar­shall LSC could not be reached for com­ment.

The in­for­ma­tion the district posted in­cludes a list of which schools have of­fi­cers, a sched­ule of their LSC meet­ings and, for those that voted al­ready, what their vote re­sults were.

North­side Col­lege Prep and Ben­ito Juarez Com­mu­nity Acad­emy are the other two schools where of­fi­cers will be re­moved. The schools be­sides Mar­shall that have de­cided to keep their of­fi­cers are: Air Force Acad­emy, Amund­sen, Chicago Vo­ca­tional, Corliss, Dou­glass, Goode, Har­lan, Hub­bard, Hyde Park, Kelly, Ken­wood, King, Michele Clark, and Mor­gan Park.

PAT NABONG/SUN-TIMES

Dnigma Howard, 18, and her father, Lau­ren­tio Howard

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