U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO HEAR COMPLAINTS FROM ANGRY PARENTS
By Chinta Strausberg
Representatives from the U.S. Department of Education are holding a “Listening Session” 6 p.m. today, Friday, August 10, 2012, at the Kennicott Park, 4434 S. Lake Park Avenue in Chicago, to hear a bevy of complaints from angry parents who are accusing the CPS of allegedly discriminating against them and their children in the closing of inner city black and Hispanic schools.
A mother of four, who asked not to be identified and who has a daughter at the Walter H. Dyett High School located at 555 E. 51st St., wrote federal, state and city officials and the media calling for an investigation of the ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ she says has allegedly been violated.
“We did not get the equal funding for our kids to be tutored,” the mother said. “When a school is on probation, school officials are supposed to provide programs for tutoring and that did not happen to the schools on the closing list. The board totally disrespected us as parents.
“When they made a decision to close the schools, they removed the principals and brought in teachers assigned to teach courses that we had complained were not offered to our students like art.
“They also sent in security officers who refused to talk to parents. They were like robots,” the mother said. “At Dyett and Price schools, they wouldn’t let grandmothers in or fathers who lived at a different address than the mothers. It was all discriminatory,” the mother said.
“The security dragged me out of a hearing at Price School and ripped my jacket because of my objections about the closure of Price School. There were only three parents present at this hearing to close Price, and when I told them not enough parents were there, I got dragged out,” she said referring to the meeting held last December.
“They had extra security for a meeting most of us knew nothing about. That was the first meeting on the closure of Price School. They wouldn’t even let the students in. It was ridiculous. They would not do this in the suburbs. When I objected that only three parents were present, a man told me, ‘Even if it’s one parent, it’s still a meeting.’”
Rikki Jones, a community activist, said, “Our children deserve a quality education. They are making our children human capital. There is no difference when a child was born in slavery where the master parent decided what that child’s future would be and in 2012 with the same scenario only the government deciding what the children’s outcome will be. They are still using our children to make money.”
The mother, who prides herself on being an activist as well, said, “My goal is see our children in Chicago public schools succeed without political intervention or having private entities controlling our schools because once they start implementing their own way of doing business causes our children to die, to drop out, suffer stress disorders and to become an inmate number leaving them voiceless.
“When parents can’t choose the schools their children can attend, that is wrong because they are taking our rights away. They are violating me. I have a right to voice my opinion without being dragged out of a school by security staff we’ve never seen before and who won’t even speak to us,” she said.
“Things should be done according to the rules and regulations. They should stop using private entities to run the schools. These are America’s children and parents should have a voice in their education. The parent’s rights have been totally violated. Our children are suffering and they put them in harms way because of the choices that the mayor and their CPS appointees. They are sent into gang territories which puts their lives in jeopardy.”
The mother is especially upset with school officials and the board about the closing of the Dyett School, which opened, with the help of the late Chicago Defender owner John H. Sengstacke.
“The principal had a list of names of more than 100 students she was going to put out of Dyett. We let them know about their plan. Some of those students were released from the school and some suspended. That is a quicker way to close the school down,” the mother charged.
“They did not follow the proper protocols for schools targeted for closure,” the mother said. She believes CPS has allegedly violated Title V in closing inner city black and Hispanic schools.
“They were not choosing schools on the North Side but in the inner city African American and Hispanic schools,” the mother said. “They did not properly inform us about the closure of these schools. Instead, they gave the paperwork to the students who brought them home. That is no way to treat parents.”
“Next, they took away the funding from these schools, took away the resources and in some schools they removed the computers before the schools were closed. We’re fighting for equal funding. When a school is supposed to be put on probation, services are supposed to come to bring it back up but that did not happen.”
She and other parents claim protesters were allegedly paid $25.00 each to protest against them when they tried to testify before the Chicago Board of Education—charges the board denies.
“The Educational Task Force had a meeting in January and July. We were supposed to have that meeting on July 19th but school officials never showed up. That meeting was scheduled to be held at the University of Illinois at Chicago, but it was canceled because they didn’t have enough security. Parents, students and community meetings were supposed to attend.
“Something is not right,” the irate mother said. “They had security to hold a meeting about the Common Core curriculum which was held August 1st. They had enough security to hold that,” the mother said.
“We went to the mayor, everybody. I came from the North Side where you don’t have to fight so hard for funding. They underfunded all of these schools in the inner city schools. It’s wrong to wipe out a school and transferred the student’s miles away. They take the resources away, the books, which are out-dated, the walls on the building; no art teacher, no tutoring and they had rat trappings at Dyett.
“Parents are also objecting to the hiring of outside people by the CPS including lawyers from other states who work with board. Why can’t our own Chicago attorneys hired? Those people on the board don’t come to the schools yet they make decisions to close these schools,” she said.
“The board members don’t have students going to CPS. When we question their data, they don’t want to hear the parents. People are fed up,” the angry mother said.
The mother also complained about a temporary principal who allegedly allowed a woman and man to come to Dyett and others schools and allegedly practiced witchcraft in a classroom.
“A room at Dyett, called the CMW Room, included a man and a woman had a stick that rattled like a snake. The students had to shake the doll and tell their affiliations (which year of school they were in). They had candles burning on a plate. This was supposed to be a peer jury for students who got suspended. They wanted the students to decide if their peers would be suspended.
“A man and a black woman who spoke with an accent, went around to different schools and did the same thing. The students were sitting in a circle on the floor; candles were lit, wood sticks and weird stuff on a rug. They had to bounce this doll and say their name and shake the doll and rattle a stick and pass it to the next person.
“When I walked in, I said this looks like a spiritual happening, witchcraft, and it should not be allowed in this school. This is witchcraft. They never sent out a parent’s permission slip to have this in our school. They told me it was a peace circle. I went to the police officer in the building but he ignored me,” the mother said.
“The officer told me there was no harm what the principal was doing. This actually went on for a few days without parents consent,” the mother said. “I took my daughter and left. It was witchcraft and I didn’t want my daughter in harms way.”
The mother and Jones said they are seeking justice for black and Hispanic students whose schools they say have been unfairly targeted for closure. They also objected to the firing of black teachers who allegedly are replaced by mostly white instructors.
Calls placed to the CPS were not returned before deadline.