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Lakeview, Wrigleyville, Northalsted

Lake View High School Keeps School Police, But Plans To Revisit Issue When In-Person Classes Resume

Members of the Lake View council said they want the principal to use the first quarter of the school year, when all learning will be online, to craft a structured plan for school resource officers.

Lake View High School
Ariel Cheung/DNAInfo Chicago
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LAKEVIEW — Lake View High School’s local school council voted Thursday to keep police officers on campus, but school leaders want to review the program before students return to in-person classes.

The 9-1 vote came one day before a deadline imposed by Chicago Public Schools for local councils across the city to decide whether to keep police on their campuses.

The school, 4015 N. Ashland Ave., has one officer but plans to hire another, said Principal Paul Karafiol.

Citing concerns voiced by students about the program, members of the Lake View council said they want Karafiol to use the first quarter of the school year, when all learning will be online, to craft a structured plan for school resource officers.

Council members said they would revisit their decision before students return to the building.

A survey of 125 students showed about 80 percent of responding students had never interacted with the school’s resource officer or didn’t know her name. Almost 60 percent of respondents thought the district should end the program.

Lake View enrolls about 1,400 students.

Rising senior Bruna Cambron said the officer’s presence is only felt when “something goes down.” 

When something happens, “her presence and the presence of other cops is felt more heavily, and it’s kind of scary,” Cambron said. “It’s kind of unnecessary for her to be there if it’s only felt when” something bad happens. 

Karafiol said the school’s resource officer is a buffer between students and other police officers who are called into the school when there’s a problem.

“When external [police come] into the school, it’s kind of hit-or-miss, and sometimes it goes well for the students and sometimes it goes really badly,” Karafiol said. “… When our [officer] is involved, they tend to go … much, much better.” 

A district official attending the meeting confirmed the school council would be able to hold another vote after the school year begins.

“We should take the opportunity to see if we can address those challenges before completely eliminating that position,” said council chair Flo Powdermaker.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson resisted calls to remove the resource officers, insisting the decision should be left to local school councils. The district gave the councils until Friday to make a decision.

The majority of schools have opted to keep officers in place.

In June, the Chicago Board of Education narrowly rejected a proposal to terminate the district’s contract with the police department. 

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.

The school board is expected to vote on the reduced contract with Chicago police Aug. 26.

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