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 that have decided to keep their officers are:
- Air Force Academy
- Chicago Vocational
- Hyde Park
- Michele Clark
- Morgan Park