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Letters to the Editor

Blame CPS for failing student who was Tasered by cops

Dnigma Howard (center) leaves the Cook County Juvenile Center on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019 with her father Laurentio Howard (left) and attorney Andrew M. Stroth after a hearing where charges were dismissed against her in an incident last month at Marshall High School. | Matthew Hendrickson/Sun-Times

Dnigma Howard (center) leaves the Cook County Juvenile Center on Feb. 6, 2019 with her father Laurentio Howard (left) and attorney Andrew M. Stroth after a hearing where charges were dismissed against her in an incident last month at Marshall High. | Matthew Hendrickson/Sun-Times

The recent horrifying story of the Marshall High student who was Tasered by a school security officer shows the failings of Chicago Public Schools to appropriately deal with students in crisis. Students with emotional or behavioral issues should have social workers, clinicians, counselors and peer mentors available to help them, not law enforcement to punish them.

The Sun-Times reported that this girl asked to see her school counselor, yet school officers ignored her request, failing to provide the support she was legally entitled to. Her counselor may have been able to intervene, avoiding the egregious actions of the security officers and her reaction. We are pleased that the criminal charges against the student were dropped, but the situation should not have escalated in the first place.

Based on 2017-18 state data, approximately 26 percent of students at Marshall have a special education plan, compared to the CPS average of 14 percent. Yet the 2019 budget for Marshall includes one school counselor (for 341 students at Marshall) but five school security officers. This should be, at a minimum, the reverse, to appropriately educate and not punish students.

Legislation that went into effect Jan. 1 requires the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board to develop a training course for school resource officers. Nothing has been implemented yet. But CPS can still implement a student protection policy providing de-escalation techniques.

How many more students will fall into crisis while CPS fails them by ignoring their special education plans? It is long past time for CPS to provide the behavioral and emotional support students are entitled to.

Chris Yun, education policy analyst, Access Living

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Foxx wrong to let girl at Marshall off the hook

State’s Attorney Kim Foxx dropped felony charges against a 16-year-old girl who bit, kicked, and punched police officers at Marshall High. Both officers sustained injuries and required hospital treatment. The reason given for dropping the charges was “in the name of justice.” Apparently the life of a Chicago police officer really doesn’t matter. Foxx and her office deprived two hard-working police officers of their right to be protected by the same system that they put their lives on the line for every day when they don the uniform. Foxx allowed the girl to escape necessary punishment and in doing so is only enabling the girl to continue on a criminal career. What the hell is wrong with our state’s attorney? She should do the job that she has sworn to do, or resign.

Larry Casey, Forest Glen

Catholic leaders right to oppose legal pot

Regarding the Illinois Catholic leaders’ opposition to legalizing recreational marijuana: I’m not a Catholic but I agree with their opposition. Legalizing pot will make it more accessible to kids and teenagers despite age restrictions. More accessibility can lead to abuse, just like with alcohol and gambling. Lawmakers are excited about this quick budget fix but we will pay for it with more than dollars.

Julia Smith, Ravenswood Manor