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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Wells Community Academy Votes To Keep School Police Officers In Narrow Decision

No students attended Monday's virtual meeting, but three community members — including a prospective parent — urged the council to vote to remove police.

Wells Community Academy High School is a Chicago Public School at 937 N. Ashland Ave.
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WEST TOWN — Wells Community Academy High School voted 5-4 Monday to keep Chicago Police officers on its campus.

At Wells, 936 N. Ashland Ave., local school council members reviewed survey responses from students and parents, though leaders differed on what they revealed.

Local school council member Daniel Alter said the responses were split 50-50, while Principal Michael Stosek said he thought the majority of students expressed support for retaining police.

Council member Caitlin Scheib, a teacher who supported removing police, said she wanted to see Wells adopt a “restorative justice” model embraced by other Chicago high schools.

“Tonight we’re being asked to think of our students as non-criminals,” Scheib said. “I see them as people who need help, who need to be heard, who need good relationships.”

Peter Poulos, a teacher who voted to keep the officers, said resource officers act as a “fire extinguisher” in that they are a tool to call upon in the event of a mass shooting or other emergency.

“It’s that sort of rare event which gives me great pause,” Poulos said. “People often think nothing like this can ever happen to them until it does.”

No students attended Monday’s virtual meeting, but three community members — including a prospective parent — urged the council to vote to remove police.

Following national unrest stemming from police killing 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.

City and district leaders have resisted taking widespread action, instead urging local school councils to make their own decisions. Like Wells, the majority of public high schools have opted to keep school resource officers in recent weeks, though at least six have voted to have them removed.

Schools must decide what to do by the end of the week.

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

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