CPS Releases Safe Passage Route Maps

By Chuck Sudo in News on Aug 9, 2013 4:30PM

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Chicago Public Schools released maps Friday of “safe passage” routes for schools receiving students from other schools that closed at the end of the last school year, less than three weeks before the new school year begins. The timing of the release has led to criticism from teachers, parents and civic groups the school district won’t have enough time to train the security personnel who will man the routes, but CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett told the Sun-Times, “these routes will be ready by Day One.”

“As a teacher and as a principal I know that a child shouldn’t be sitting in my classroom or my school worried about whether or not they’re going to get to and from school safely. They should be worried about whether they’re going to pass my class,” CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett told the Sun-Times.

The new safe passage routes are another source of criticism in the way CPS has handled the mass closings they announced earlier this year. Parents concerned about how their children will get to their new schools have said they’ll areas of the city noted for drug and gang activity. CPS has hired 600 new safety workers to man the routes.

Not everyone is happy with the short notice or what they believe is a laissez faire approach by CPS to the plan. Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) said one of the routes for Cather Elementary shown to him by CPS security chief Jadine Chou ran right through an intersection known for drug dealing. Chou assured Fioretti the route would not make the final cut, yet he says safe passage signs have been put up along the route Chou said would be axed. “One hand doesn’t know what the other hand’s doing right now.”

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said the routes should have been in place before discussion on the mass school closings began. “It’s so unfortunate the way CPS always seems to do things at the last minute,” Lewis said. “I’m very worried about what’s going to happen when schools starts . . . that safe passage isn’t particularly safe.”

Not everyone is worried. Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) said the routes for Garrett Morgan Elementary in his ward look good. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said anyone at CPS who isn’t taking the safe passage routes seriously “have me to deal with.”

The Safe Passage program was implemented after the 2009 beating death of Derrion Albert that made national headlines across the country. You can see the maps of safe passage routes for the receiving schools here.