Community activists and parents of students at Benito Juarez High School called on the city to investigate how a chunk of the Pilsen high school’s roof was ripped off during a violent windstorm Monday night.
Speaking to reporters across the street from the school, Byron Sigcho, director of the Pilsen Alliance, urged the city’s Department of Buildings to get to the bottom of what happened to the only 7-year-old roof.
“We need to know what has happened,” Sigcho said to reporters on another particularly windy evening. “This is serious, when someone can get hurt. It can not just be overlooked.”
Structural engineers from the city’s Department of Buildings evaluated the annex and deemed it safe for occupancy Wednesday, according to CPS. At the time the roof was torn off, it was under a 20-year warranty.
A new, temporary roof will be installed Thursday, according to CPS. Initially, the replacement was to be installed Wednesday, but high winds postponed the work.
Nellie Cotton, another Pilsen Alliance member, said the group was seeking “accountability.”
“We are fully aware there are many issues within CPS, and we do not want Juarez to be just a footnote in the story of these issues,” she said.
In an email Wednesday night, CPS spokesman Michael Passman said the school district is evaluating the extent of the damage.
“The damaged roof at Juarez is under warranty, and we are moving forward with a process to have the roof permanently repaired,” he said.
No one was harmed when part of the school annex’s roof came off.
The area beneath and surrounding where the roof came off was still cordoned off Wednesday afternoon. The press conference was initially planned to be held near where the collapse occurred, but organizers said school security told them they had to hold it across the street.
Art teacher Steve Vidal’s classroom is in the annex. He told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday that staff have had problems with the roof for a number of months.
“We’ve had pieces of metal flying from the roof,” he said. “You could hear the wind noise howling while you were in the classroom.”
Vidal said metal pieces “several feet long” had come loose from the roof in recent months.
Juarez was slated to lose $613,000 in discretionary funding cuts before CPS opted to restore $15 million across the district, according to the CPS parent group Raise Your Hand. The Sun-Times first reported last month that those proposed cuts disproportionately affected majority black and Hispanic schools.