IRVING PARK — Carl Schurz High School’s local school council unanimously decided to keep its school resource officers.
The 7-0 decision Tuesday night came ahead of a Friday deadline requiring councils across Chicago public high schools to decide whether to keep or oust police officers from their campuses.
Principal Anthony Rodriguez said the Schurz council hosted three different town halls and conducted a survey of the school’s community prior to the vote.
“This was done in the best interest of the students,” Rodriguez said. “The survey results were a pretty clear indicator of what the stakeholders wanted.”
“As a fat old white guy, I’ve had my problems with the police. Nobody wants to see a squad car following them ever,” said Tim Anderson, a teacher and council member. “… [But] there’s a lot of ways to improve what we have here. I think everyone on the council has heard that.”
Police officers in schools has become a focal point in national demonstrations protesting police violence in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. Several large cities, including Minneapolis, have since moved to eliminate police presence in public schools.
The Chicago Board of Education narrowly voted against removing officers from all public schools in June.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson chose not to unilaterally make any decisions about having officers in schools, instead leaving individual school councils to decide for themselves. The majority of schools have opted to keep police officers in place.
“I think it’s incredible that the Chicago Board of Education has left us with this responsibility,” Anderson said. “… They should be making the big decisions.”
The district announced plans Monday to cut its school police program by more than half in the next fiscal year by removing payment for officers on days they are not serving in schools, and no longer paying for mobile patrol officers.
The budget proposal — part of a broader $8.4 billion spending plan unveiled Monday by the district — is the first indication of how the district will modify its school police contract for next year, with COVID-19 dramatically changing the landscape for schools alongside an increased spotlight on the cost of school policing.
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