Statements at the August 2020 CPS Board of Ed Meeting- RYH & Allies

Several powerful statements are below. The meeting is live streamed on the CPS YouTube channel. Our live tweets are here and we recommend following today’s #ChiDocumenter for every bit of board action. (Read more about City Bureau’s Documenters here.) Press coverage of the meeting is far below. 

Natasha Erskine, CPS Parent & RYH LSC Parent Organizer

This is a prime and critically important moment to reimagine safety, equity, quality of education for Chicago's children. Particularly Black, special needs and low income. These protected categories of citizens are counting on you to vote to terminate the moral contract with CPD School Resource Officers. As an experienced former LSC Member, I can tell you from attending more than half of the LSC SRO decision meetings, there is real concern for the current state of disempowerment and resource-poor LSCs and schools across our city. Today, you have the historic opportunity to vote in line with research and fund our children.

The attachments are intended to inform, encourage and support your moral vote today in favor of the needs and protection for Chicago's children. We stand ready to work with CPS Safety & Security to develop community-infused safety plans. We know that 21 CPS schools operate under zero police options inside their schools. Brooks College Prep HS at 111th & King Drive in the Roseland community has not had an CPD SRO in nearly 5 years and Curie in Archer Heights has not had an in-school SRO for almost 2 years. These examples tell us that school communities need adequate resources. And when they have it; they keep students and schools safe.  

We need your vote and investment in Chicago’s children, today. All of the research data and The People back and support you in reinvesting critical funding to mental health and the whole child needs for our children.

RYH submitted this letter to the CPS Board regarding the SRO Resolution and the SRO IGA both on the agenda- vote no.
RYH submitted this letter signed by multiple organizations regarding the SRO IGA- vote no.

 

Kristin Brody, CPS graduate, LSC Chair, & Parent of a CPS Diverse Learner student

I urge the Board to terminate the IGA with the Chicago Police Department. CPS data is clear that SROs disproportionately target students with disabilities, especially students of color. The Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services Family Advisory Board was consulted about SROs at our August 6th meeting. Overwhelmingly, the feedback was urging SRO removal in favor of funding for other district services.

At that meeting, Jadine Chou shared data showing that students with IEPs made up 30% of SRO referrals over the past three school years even though they’re only 14% of the student body. This number is UP from just five years ago in 2015 school year when students with IEPs were 22% of the SRO referrals. It is alarming that the percentage of students with IEPs among referrals continues to increase, with 236 students with IEPs last year being referred to SROs.

Not only are diverse learners being disproportionately referred to SROs, their legal rights to their IEPs and Behavioral Intervention Plans are being violated by school administrators who wrongly call police instead of following plans created by teachers and parents to meet students’ needs. Dnigma Howard is a former Marshall High School student who was denied her IEP and BIP by school administrators and instead violently assaulted by SROs. Miss Howard is one of many students with disabilities who has been deeply traumatized. When asked if administrators at Marshall High School have been held accountable for illegally denying Dnigma Howard special education services, Jadine Chou said she, “We are not in a position to answer this question.” This is a well-documented case from 18 months ago and no one has been held accountable. This will continue to happen. This Board owes it to Miss Howard, and countless others to do the right thing and get police out of our schools NOW and give our students access to the services they deserve.

The district ALREADY has very clear alternatives laid out in current CPS policy that simply need to be fully enacted and fully funded. CPS must invest money to expand restorative practices staff and trainings, as well as ensure schools have adequate numbers of special education teachers, counselors, social workers, and nurses. I urge the Board to allocate all CPS dollars there, NOT to police.
The district ALREADY has very clear alternatives laid out in current CPS policy that simply need to be fully enacted and fully funded. CPS must invest money to expand restorative practices staff and trainings, as well as ensure schools have adequate numbers of special education teachers, counselors, social workers, and nurses. I urge the Board to allocate all CPS dollars there, NOT to police.
RYH Written Comments Submitted via CPS BOE Form
RYH submitted this comment to the CPS Board regarding facilities planning and the CPS capital plan.

Kellogg ES speakers advocating for facilities investment

Shanya Gray, Kellogg ES Parent

Good Morning to all. Thank you for listening to me this morning. My name is Shanya Gray and I am a Southside Kellogg Elementary school parent to 2 witty, vivacious black boys.

I am here to speak to you about Kellogg, a Level 1+ successful predominantly African American neighborhood school which has not gotten much needed capital expansion funding for decades despite pleas over and over again. Capital improvements needed to replace a 20 year old crumbling modular with structural, ventilation and sewage issues amongst other improvements.

This year at last we got word that the school has been slated to receive some capital improvements in the FY21 budget. However, to our dismay these capital improvements which are funded at 1/10 of what our white neighborhood counterpart Mount Greenwood Elementary has gotten in the last 5 years does not come remotely close to meeting our needs In fact, instead of a much needed addition we are slated to receive renovations that will decrease precious classroom space.   

Board, in a world where my black boys will have to work 10 times harder than their white counterparts to be the doctors, engineers and lawyers of this world, with the backdrop of a fight for Black Lives and equity, my sons need to be set up for success. Kellogg can do that with adequate facilities and support. This is why am I speaking to you today

In reality, my black sons do not need an upgraded playground which primarily appeases the predominantly white surrounding neighbors and the private white catholic school across the street. 

Instead:

  • My black sons need a structure that in the age of Covid19 won’t have ventilation and heating issues, give them trouble to breathe and be hazardous to their health. 
  • My black sons instead need a capital expansion that will support top notch learning such as a STEM lab.
  • My black sons need a dedicated computer and technology lab.
  • My black sons need a library.
  • My black sons need dedicated a warming kitchen and dining space.
  • My black sons need a dedicated gym space where when an electrical device plugged in won’t short circuit.

I am therefore pleading with you here today to give Kellogg Elementary the needed facilities to help bring equity to my son’s education so that together we can position them for a successful future.

Thank you for your support of a capital expansion plan.

 

Margaret LaRaviere, Kellogg ES LSC Chair & CPS Parent

Letter submitted to the CPS Board. Statement was taken from this letter.

 

Alex Lopez, LSC Member, Chicagoans for Anti-Racist Education (CARE) & CPS Parent of 3

I’m Alex Lopez. I’m a member of an LSC, Chicagoans for Anti-Racist Education or CARE, and the parent of three kids who attend a school in Lakeview named after a racist scientist. I originally signed up to speak with you all about removing Louis J. Agassiz’s name from our school but I am inspired to name what I see happening today. 

While the board publishes Dr. Swinney’s equity framework prioritizing racial equity on paper, your actions repeatedly accept and extend false white supremacist narratives as inevitable while treating racial justice as a second class goal. 

You did it with a CPS hybrid plan which accepted the narrative that our schools were too crowded to bring back students into safe conditions without talk of reopening the 50 shuttered schools in our Brown and Black communities, without attempting to rehire all of the veteran educators of color who were laid off by administrations past. 

CPS perpetuates the white supremacist narrative that police are the only way to keep us safe when you say LSCs should decide about SROs but won’t allow LSCs to invest the same funds in alternatives. 

Today, CPS is sending 1,000 school clerks, predominantly women of color, back into school buildings without a safety plan while we hold this meeting virtually for our own safety. You’re telling parents that reopening will follow the science but not for these Brown and Black mothers? Nevermind all the early childhood research that your distance learning plan ignores. When we defend the status quo, we preserve and perpetuate the historical inequities. Why is the board cramming a virtual replication of the status quo school day on us without seeking the creative input and experience of the thousands of educators and families who have been prioritizing equity in their classrooms and communities everyday.    

Our elementary school is named after one of the founders of anti-Black ideology and when we try to take his name off the building we’re told to prioritize Board policies and process, the same board which put his name on our building in the first place. If you cannot confront the racist legacy of a dead man in Lakeview then I hold little hope that you will confront the living racism which permeates our school system.

 

Press Coverage of the meeting

Sun-Times: CPS board votes to keep police in schools

La Voz ChicagoLa Junta de CPS mantiene a la policía en las escuelas a pesar de protestas estudiantiles

WBEZ: Police Will Remain In Chicago Schools — For At Least One More Year

Chalkbeat Chicago: Chicago board keeps school police contract but promises new safety plan

Chicago Tribune: Amid protests, Chicago Board of Education votes to keep school police, but also moves to create phase-out plan

WTTW: Board of Education Renews SRO Contract With Chicago Police

Block Club ChicagoCPS Board Votes To Keep Police Officers In Schools — Again

Sun-TimesCPS to face ‘very, very tough decisions,’ potential budget cuts if federal funding falls through, board president says

 

Press Coverage leading up to this monthly meeting

Sun-TimesCPS proposes holding classes on Veterans Day instead of Election Day

Sun-TimesCPS needs backup budget, fiscal watchdog says

Access Living’s annual review of the CPS special education budget for FY21 can be found here

Chalkbeat Chicago: The future of school police is up to the Chicago board this week

Chicago Tribune: Chicago school resource officers could be phased out under Board of Ed proposal amid ongoing protests

WBEZ: Ahead Of A Key Contract Vote, Chicago Public Schools Retools The School Police Program

 

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