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Urban Prep Academy, ABLA Work On Improving Relations After Street Fight

A street fight in September involving students from Urban Prep West was due the school’s lack of communication with the community, Deverra Beverly, president of the ABLA Local Advisory Council, said. As a result, both the ABLA and Urban Prep administrators have been meeting with each other to discuss how to move on from the incident.

In September, a group of Urban Prep students were involved in a fight while walking through the ABLA public housing projectafter football practice.

Urban Prep Academies
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The attack happened around 6:30 p.m. on the corner of 13th Street and Loomis Street.

Residents are upset by the incident, while local representatives blame a lack of security for it.

“Going down Loomis was a safe passage until this happened,” said Victoria Hildreth, whose 15-year-old son Reginald was injured in the street brawl involving more than a dozen teenagers.

“Was there proper planning for security? The answer is no,” said Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd).

According to Beverly, some in the community were upset because the school’s admissions were not opened to local students.

“I can’t go to your school, but you can walk through my community?” said Beverly. She said the students stuck out in the community because of their tie-and-jacket uniform, thus cementing their outsider status.

“When you come to a community, you’ve got to look like the community,” she said.

Beverly noted the school’s principal has been more cooperative with the community since the incident.

“A lot of it is about building good will in the community,” said Kelly Dickens, vice president of Institutional Advancement at Urban Prep Academies, a charter school with three campuses throughout the city.

Beverly hopes to include the school in a neighborhood safe passage program where parents and volunteers walk students to and from public transportation. She has also been talking to the school about allowing local students to attend next year.

“We’re going through growing pains,” said Dickens, of the school administration. “In a year, we won’t even remember this story.”

Beverly has also been meeting with other community leaders, including the 12th district police commander in order to establish a safe route for the students.

Hildreth said Urban Prep has talked to parents about using other means of transportation,  noting that parents who elect to use a transportation service would be paying for it themselves.

Both Fioretti and Beverly say  people involved in attacks similar to the Urban Prep incident don’t come from within the community.

Beverly has access to the surveillance footage of the attacks and said that while not every detail can be seen from the footage, the ABLA has a better understanding of what happened.

Witnesses of the brawl told Beverly that most of the attackers were not from ABLA. She added that if residents of the development were found to be involved in the attack, they could be evicted.

For his part, Fioretti wants to increase security in the neighborhood.

“The 12th district is very stretched,” said Fioretti. “We need more police on the streets.”

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