LINCOLN PARK — Lincoln Park High School’s local school council voted to remove in-school police officers late Thursday.
The North Side high school at 2001 N. Orchard St. joins at least a dozen other Chicago public schools that have voted in recent weeks to remove the school resource officers. Its council voted 7-3 in favor of removing on-campus officers.
“I’m so proud of everyone here for their willingness to listen, look at both sides and think about what’s best for our school and community by committing to an anti-racist policy that excludes a systemically racist organization from our school,” said teacher Carolyn Latshaw.
Lincoln Park’s school resource officer position was unfilled during the last school year, although police were present on campus during a tumultuous spring semester in which several top administrators and the boy’s basketball season were suspended amid misconduct allegations.
Sean McGuire, a science teacher who voted to remove, said the police were ineffective in addressing the school’s unrest at the time.
“They did nothing to calm down the chaos, neutralize the uncertainty or address the instability that was happening in our school,” McGuire said.
Dean John Johnson — who was among the administrators removed but later reinstated at the school — voted to keep the police program, along with Principal Eric Steinmiller and a parent representative.
Johnson, a former police officer who’s worked at Lincoln Park High School for a decade, suggested hiring a resource officer who shares the school’s commitment to restorative justice over traditional policing.
“I strongly have faith in bringing in someone who will be passionate and feel the same way that we do about our students and the community at Lincoln Park,” Johnson said. “We don’t want to grab just anyone off the street … and we’d like someone to come in our building who knows our students by name and can build a relationship with them.”
But other council members rejected the idea reforming the role of school resource officers, citing overwhelming opposition from students and alumni who organized protests and spoke in town halls against in-school police.
“We, the LP students and alumni, have made our case abundantly clear: We do not want [police] in our schools,” said Alexa Avellaneda, who will be a sophomore this year. “They do not make us feel safe, and we don’t want our classmates or our friends to worry about their safety in a school environment.”
The push to remove in-school police has intensified in the wake of police killing George Floyd in Minneapolis.
While several large cities, including Minneapolis, have taken steps to eliminate police presence in public schools, Chicago leaders have resisted widespread action, instead leaving the decisions up to individual school councils. Most have decided to keep their resource officers.
CPS announced earlier this week it will cut back on its school police program in the next fiscal year by removing payment for officers on their out-of-school days and no longer paying for mobile patrol officers. The proposal is part of the district’s broader $8.4 billion spending plan, which was unveiled Monday.
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