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Chicago school board votes to remove uniformed police officers from schools

The Chicago Board of Education voted on Thursday to end its contract with Chicago police and remove uniformed officers from the citys schools.

The vote came at the end of a nearly eight-hour school board meeting in which teachers, students and elected city officials spoke.

The battle on whether to keep the uniformed police officers in the 39 city schools where they continue to patrol, out of 634 schools, has been going on since police were assigned to protect the schools in 1991.

Some students told school board members that police in the schools scare them.

Supporters of removing police from schools said the officers targeted minorities and did not make schools safer.

Instead, the same supporters suggested the money spent on police patrols could be better spent. 4 Many supporters of removing police from schools said the officers targeted minorities, while also citing they felt unsafe in the presence of officers on school grounds. WGN News

Opponents of removing police from schools claim the officers made the schools safer, telling board members it should be up to the individual schools to decide whether to have uniformed police on the premises.

FOX 32 in Chicago reported that when the board cast their votes, it was in favor of a new “Whole School Safety Policy,” which eliminates the use of school resource officers.

The official plan will be presented to board members for final approval over the summer, and if approved, it goes into effect next school year. 4 Supporters suggested the money spent on police patrols could be better spent elsewhere. WGA News

“We want to be clear that many schools will still employ physical safety personnel like security guards at points of entry, and crossing guards and Safe Passage workers to ensure students can get to and from school safely,” the board said in the letter obtained by the station. “Some schools will also continue to use physical security tools such as security cameras or metal detectors. Furthermore, each school will still maintain a relationship with their local Chicago Police Department School Sergeant, a position assigned to each police district to provide safety support to schools.”

The board also reportedly said in the letter the funding used for uniformed officers in schools will be reallocated for “alternative safety positions, resources, and interventions,” like restorative justice coordinators, youth intervention specialists, wrap-around supports and mentoring programs, and more.

Earlier in January, the Chicago Board of Education was reportedly seeking to strip Local School Councils, organizations made up of parents, teachers, and students, of their power to choose whether to have SROs at their schools. 4 The vote to remove uniformed police from schools came at the end of a nearly eight-hour school board meeting. WGN News

After taking the decision away from local councils, the board will remove all officers from school grounds, according to local outlet WBEZ. 

Alderman Nicholas Sposato had reportedly already been told that CPS would not opt out of renewing its contract with the Chicago Police Department.

The Illinois Policy Institute, a think tank that tracks policy decisions in the state, said, “Local School Councils already have the power to remove officers, but district leaders are taking away that local control.” 4 Supporters flashing signs in protest of banning uniformed police on school grounds are seen. WGA News

The Chicago Teachers Union, (CTU) advocated for police officers to be removed from schools in 2020, amid the George Floyd protests. 

“These students along with the parents, teachers and staff that support them have looked at the data, experienced the brutality and are calling for police-free schools,” the CTU said in a statement in June 2020.

Some schools opted to remove officers from their premises in 2020. Start your day with all you need to know

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William Taft Howard High School was among the few that voted to keep them.

William Howard Taft High School is one of 151 high schools in CPS and serves over 4,000 students. CPS presides over 646 schools and 300,000 students.

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