‘Slap in the face’ that Chicago school where officers dragged girl down stairs voted to keep its cops, father says

The Local School Council at Marshall Metropolitan High School voted recently to keep police officers on site.

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Dnigma Howard, 18, and Laurentio Howard, 49

Dnigma Howard, 18, and Laurentio Howard, 49, pose for a portrait outside their home in the Near West Side neighborhood on June 20, 2020.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file photo

The father of a recently graduated Chicago Public Schools student said it’s a “slap in the face” that his daughter’s former school has decided to keep its police officers after two cops at the school dragged her down a set of stairs and shocked her with a stun gun last year.

The Local School Council at Marshall Metropolitan High School in East Garfield Park is one of 15 schools that have voted in recent weeks to maintain their participation in CPS’ school resource officer program, which puts uniformed Chicago police officers in high schools. Six LSC members voted to keep the officers, none voted to remove them and three members abstained, according to CPS records published online late Friday.

The LSCs at two schools — made up of elected parents, staff, community members, the principal and a lone student — have opted to remove their cops, and more than 50 others are set to decide in the next two weeks.

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.”

Howard said he believes that as long as police officers are in schools, they will respond to situations outside their assignments, which have since been redefined in an agreement with CPS. The school should spend the money on counselors instead, he said. 

“I guarantee you, they are going to have more issues with the police officers there,” Howard said. 

Dnigma had a special education behavior plan in place when officers intervened in a disciplinary incident because she had a cellphone out in class. Chicago police initially charged Dnigma, who was 16 at the time, with felony counts of battery after the officers said she pulled them down the stairs and punched them.

The Cook County state’s attorney’s office later dropped the charges “in the interest of justice” after video first surfaced in a Sun-Times report last year of the officers dragging Dnigma down the stairs. The family is suing the city and school district. 

“Without the cellphone [video] my daughter would probably be in jail right now,” Howard said.

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