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Back of the Yards

Back Of The Yards College Prep Votes Out Police; 5th CPS School To Remove Cops From Campus

Local school council members voted 6-5 in favor of eliminating school resource officers from the South Side school Monday morning.

Back of the Yards College Prep votes to remove SROs from Southside school.
Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
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BACK OF THE YARDS — Back of the Yards College Prep narrowly voted to remove police officers from its campus, becoming the fifth Chicago high school to do so.

Local school council members voted 6-5 in favor of eliminating school resource officers from the South Side school Monday morning.

Following the unrest stemming from the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, protesters have demanded Chicago Public Schools cut ties with the Chicago Police Department — as has happened in Minneapolis — and remove officers from schools as part of a larger movement against police violence.

City and district leaders have resisted taking widespread action, instead urging local school councils to make their own decisions. Most schools already have opted to retain school police while other councils must vote by the end of the week.

Northside College Prep in North Park, Benito Juarez Community Academy in Pilsen and Roberto Clemente Community Academy in Humboldt Park and Hancock High School in West Elsdon all voted to oust officers from their schools in the last few weeks.

About 294 students and 72 parents at Back of the Yards responded to surveys from the school. The majority indicated they wanted to retain officers on campus. Ahead of the vote, some graduates and a parent said the response reflected roughly one-third of the school community, and was lacking enough input from students and parents.

Around 60 teachers and staff members who responded were split on the issue.

Several teachers, parents and alumni who spoke at Monday’s meeting said they supported ousting officers.

“One student being subjected to any sort of abuse, is one student too many…The solution is clear, ending policing in school so that every student can be safe and feel welcome in the building,” teacher Angelo Cavoto said.

Community representative Rafael Yañez, a Chicago Police officer, said resource officers aren’t trained to respond to an array of issues students may face.

“All of the training in the world won’t give me the capacity to help students when they have trauma,” he said in Spanish. 

Vice Chair Janet Tapia supported removing the resource officers, saying the school already had six security officers on campus.

“They are there everyday. They speak Spanish. We have a good relationship with them,” she said.

The Chicago Board of Education narrowly voted against removing officers from all public schools last month. The board will take another vote on whether to renew the district’s $33 million contract with police later this month.

Read all of Block Club’s coverage on school resource officers here.

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