March 14, 2013
After close collaboration with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and feedback collected from over 20,000 community members, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today released a preview of the District’s comprehensive Student Safety Transition Plan, which will support the District’s efforts to safely and seamlessly transition students to their new welcoming schools this fall. CPS is working to consolidate underutilized schools in order to redirect resources to help create quality schools with updated amenities and supports for students.
This plan highlights the programs and resources that will be included in each welcoming school’s safety plan to support all children as they travel to and from school, and inside their school. These supports include expanding the District’s successful Safe Passage program and adding safety personnel to every welcoming school this fall.
“Every child in every neighborhood deserves a high-quality education in our schools. Throughout this process, we will work to ensure the safety and security of our students while improving their quality of education,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “CPS has made tremendous gains in creating positive learning environments, but we cannot do this work alone. By working in lockstep with the Chicago Police Department and our community partners, we will meet our commitment to parents and students to provide a safe and smooth transition for all students.”
Each welcoming school will have a dedicated safety plan tailored for its specific needs. Produced in partnership with CPD, each plan takes into consideration factors such as neighborhood conditions, the distance between schools, and an analysis of other safety risks such as busy streets and intersections. To ensure welcoming schools provide a positive and nurturing environment for new students, CPS will also work with each school to develop an individual support strategy plan based on the distinct needs of their students, families and communities.
“Nothing is more important than the safety of our children and we will work each day to make sure that every child can focus on their studies instead of worrying about their safety,” said Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy. “Mayor Emanuel and I remain fully committed to provide CPS any assistance needed to ensure that parents and students know they are safe before, during, and after school.”
The District’s Student Safety Transition Plan incorporates the following supports and services:
- Safe Passage/Parent Patrols: Expand Safe Passage to every welcoming school by partnering with additional community- and faith-based organizations, and supplement Safe Passage by placing additional parent and community volunteers along key routes.
- School-Based Security Model: CPS will supplement all welcoming schools with an extra security officer and conduct training for security personnel with a focus on student integration. In certain instances, security officers will follow their students to their new welcoming school to ease the transition by maintaining established relationships.
- Expand and Improve Safety Technology: CPS will review the needs of welcoming schools, and technology, such as security cameras, alarm systems, and entry screening equipment, will be installed as needed.
- Welcoming Environment at School: Welcoming schools will hold orientation and student/family integration events during the summer to introduce and welcome new students and parents before the school year begins. These schools will also implement interventions and create student support groups, as well as engage students in additional social emotional supports that help students build their conflict resolution skills.
The Safe Passage program works with community organizations to provide adult supervision on the ground every day to support and monitor students as they travel to and from school. In order to successfully expand the Safe Passage program, CPS will issue an RFP to enlist more partnerships of community-based and faith-based organizations that have long-standing relationships with the respective communities they serve, and to increase the presence of adults dedicated to helping create a safe environment for students. CPS will provide all Safe Passage partners with training on building relationships with students as well as de-escalation techniques.
“We have had many partners already step forward to say they want to be a part of the solution,” added CEO Byrd-Bennett. “These partners know their neighborhoods and have their ear to the ground, which is key. Their involvement and expertise will be critical as we all have a role to play in ensuring that our communities and our students are safe.”
The Student Safety Transition Plan builds on CPS’s holistic approach to creating safer and more positive learning environments throughout the District, which has led to positive results this school year.
Input from sister agencies and community stakeholders will continue to influence and adjust safety planning after the CEO makes recommendations to the Chicago Board of Education on which underutilized schools should be consolidated.
Chicago Public Schools serves 403,000 students in 681 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.