Activists, Parents 'Occupy' School Slated For Turnaround

Parents and activists from Occupy Chicago seize Piccolo Elementary School on city's west side to stop mayor and city council from firing entire staff.

Parents and activists from Occupy Chicago seize Piccolo Elementary School on city's West Side to stop the mayor and city council from firing the entire staff.

Days before the Chicago Board of Education is expected to vote whether to replace the staff at ten under-performing Chicago schools, angry parents occupied one of those schools Friday night, saying they would refuse to leave until Mayor Rahm Emanuel agreed to discuss their objections to the board’s “turn-around” plans.

About thirty parents occupied Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School in Humboldt Park, after showing up outside the mayor’s office earlier in the day and failing to get a meeting with him.

There is also an encampment outside of supporters that include parents, Occupy activists, and teachers.

Via Occupy Chicago Press:

Declaration #1 from Piccolo Occupation
11:49pm - February 17th, 2012

We, the Piccolo Occupation, are putting our childrens' education first. Piccolo has failed because CPS has refused to invest in public education. The school has struggled for years but you have taken out all the programs, classes and opportunities to learn. We have had 3 principals in the last five years.We have not been able to work with anyone on a long-term basis to address the chronic disinvestment in our school. CPS and City Hall have failed us and our children. Your goal is to privatize the education system by giving it to corporations that support the mayor. We have been ignored, you have ignored our children and now you are trying to make money off of them.

The Chicago Public Schools is in violation of its own remediation and probation policy. CPS is in violation of the Illinois School Code and the Illinois Civil Rights Act. CPS is in violation of Illinois Senate Bill 630. Because of this, a moratorium has been introduced in the Illinois Legislative Assembly by the School Facilities Taskforce. We are enacting our moratorium for ourselves with this sit-in due to the fact that CPS not once has laid out the necessary corrective action for Brian Piccolo or Paolo Cassals along with the Local School Councils for getting them off of probation during the last five years. The School Improvement Plans for Academic Achievement (SIPAA) at these two schools have lacked the budgetary resources to bridge the achievement gap of our student populations. Further, the SIPAAs along with the budgets at the time of their signings have not had real community input. Therefor, these actions could very well be civil rights violations. At the recent CPS hearings, the former principle of Cassals testified that not once in the last five years had CPS met with her nor with the LSC about any of the necessary corrective action for Paola Cassals to be removed off of probation.

Because CPS has been not willing to meet with or listen to us, this is what we want:

1) A meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel

2) A meeting with at least five of the Chicago School Board members present

3) The removal of Piccolo and Cassals from the turnaround list

There's now an update from Occupy Chicago:

After blocking occupiers from entering or leaving the building, which is preventing the parents from carrying out their scheduled shifts, CPS security guards from the Central Office are denying one of the parents, a diabetic with high blood pressure, her multiple medications nessisary to avoid serious health complications. They are saying that she will have to leave the building to get access to her medication and will not be allowed back in. She is refusing to leave, saying "I am here for the right cause and I am not giving up."

About Diane Sweet

Diane Sweet's picture
Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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