That violence has hit areas like North Lawndale, where 59-year-old Eular Hatchett walks her 13-year-old nephew, DaVontay Horace, to school to ensure he gets there safely.
“Our parents know about this area,” she said. “They don’t know about those other areas. If they send him way north or way south, I’m not going to do that. It’s too dangerous.”
When she dropped her nephew off at Henson Elementary on Thursday, teachers were coming out of a meeting looking distraught and with their heads down, leading her to suspect that it’s among those that will close. The teachers told her and others that they weren’t permitted to talk about it.
For some of the affected children, it would be the second time in recent years that they’ve been displaced. When Chicago closed many of its public housing high-rises in recent years, school closings followed.
Many teachers and parents expressed anger and frustration at how the news of the school closures trickled out, leaving some to agonize over rumor and conjecture, instead learning the list of schools in one official announcement.
“In a word, the approach was brutal. It’s certainly not deserved by these parents and these kids,” said Mary Visconti, the director of the Better Boys Foundation, a youth organization in Lawndale.
A member of the City Council who represents the area, Michael Chandler, told a community gathering that he was informed Wednesday night of two Lawndale schools that will be closing, but he didn’t name them.
Chicago Public Schools has until March 31 to announce which of the 129 schools it will close.
After published reports late Wednesday said the announcement would occur Thursday, a CPS spokeswoman said she could not confirm that information. The district released a one paragraph statement from CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett that reiterated that the announcement would be soon.
“For too long children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated out of the resources they need to succeed in the classroom because they are in underutilized, under resourced schools,” Byrd-Bennett said in the statement.
The district did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
The list will not be final until the Chicago Board of Education votes on it in late May.
The Chicago Teachers Union, which has vigorously fought the closure plans, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.