Parents end sit-in after promised meeting with education officials
Between 60 and 100 parents and protesters left Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School Saturday afternoon after an overnight sit-in once they had been promised a meeting with education officials before a key vote on the future of the school.
Piccolo, in the city’s Humboldt Parkneighborhood, is one of 16 schools that CPS wants to “turnaround” because of poor academic performance. CPS officials point to the low performance of the school, which has been on probation for five consecutive years, as the reason the school needs to go through a restructuring.
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Earlier Saturday, 13 protestors had remained inside the school in Humboldt Park, even while Chicago Public Schools officials refused to let them bring food in. Roughly another 50, many of whom had pitched tents, were outside the school.
Saturday afternoon, a member of the Board of Education met with the protesters inside the school and agreed to grant the protesters a meeting with the entire board, said Rachel Perrotta of Occupy Chicago, a group demonstrating with the parents.
The Occupy Chicago members used the group’s Twitter account to broadcast news and post links to videos from inside the school.
“Piccolo has failed because CPS has refused to invest in public education,” protesters said in a statement early today. “The school has struggled for years but you have taken out all the programs, classes and opportunities to learn.”
The protest came just days before the Chicago Board of Education is to vote whether to replace staff there and at nine other under-performing schools.
A press release by CPS on Feb. 14 indicated the Chicago Board of Education will vote on the proposed school actions at its next meeting on Feb. 22.
If approved by the Board, CPS will select CPS’ Office of School Improvement (OSI) to execute the turnaround strategy at four schools serving nearly 3,000 students and the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) to apply the turnaround strategy at six proposed schools serving nearly 3,200 students.
One of the six Academies for Urban School Leadership schools includes Brian Piccolo, along with: Pablo Casals Elementary School, Melville W. Fuller Elementary School, Theodore Herzl Elementary School, Marquette Elementary School and Amos Alonzo Stagg Elementary School.
More than 123,000 students attend underperforming schools, which represents nearly one-third of all seats in CPS. In 2011, only 7.9 percent of all 11th graders tested college ready, and over 250 schools are on probation.
The Chicago Public Schools serves roughly 405,000 students in more than 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school system.