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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

Michele Clark High School Votes To Keep School Resource Officers

Though no students spoke at the meeting, the West Side school's principal said some students supported keeping police officers on campus.

Exterior of Michele Clark High School.
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AUSTIN — The local school council at Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet High School voted unanimously Thursday to keep school resource officers on campus.

The 11-0 vote came after a short discussion where no students spoke.

“We do need the [officers] for the safety of students and the staff,” said Bernard Clay, a community representative on the council.

Pulling police out of schools has become a focal point of the youth-led movement that more broadly is protesting police violence and demanding funding devoted to police be directed toward community resources.

The Chicago Public School Board narrowly voted in June not to sever the district’s $33 million contract with the Chicago Police Department.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and schools chief Janice Jackson also decided not to take district-wide action to cancel the contracts. Instead, they gave the final decision to local school councils, which are advisory bodies comprising parents, teachers, community members and school administrators.

Of the local school councils that have voted, the majority have opted to keep officers on campus. Other school councils have delayed their votes to get more feedback from community members.

Principal Charles Anderson said officers assigned to Michele Clark are there to offer support for the school’s programs, not arrest students.

“We’ve been able to get a lot of mentoring going on. And I can’t speak for other schools for how they use them,” Anderson said. “I feel like they have been in partnership with us.”

Though no students spoke at the meeting, Anderson said some of the students his administration spoke to were in support of keeping the police officers on campus.

“This is not just something we decided as adults. This is something we decided as a school,” Anderson said.

Whitney Young Will Vote Aug. 12

The local school council at Whitney Young Magnet Academy High School, a selective-enrollment high school in the West Loop, met Thursday but did not vote on the issue.

The council plans to vote on whether to retain or remove school resource officers at 2 p.m. Aug. 12.

Ahead of that vote, they will host three town halls at 6 p.m. Aug. 4,5 and 6. The first town hall will be for faculty and staff, the second for current students and the third for parents, guardians and alums.

Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.

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