Demonstrators Arrested In Sit-In At City Hall To Save Dyett High School

By aaroncynic in News on Sep 24, 2014 8:30PM

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(Photo via Twitter, courtesy of @fairtrade_ervin)

Nearly a dozen demonstrators were arrested late last night in City Hall after chaining themselves to the statue on the 5th floor in front of Rahm Emanuel’s office. The protesters staged their sit in— beginning in the late afternoon— to request Emanuel take their demands surrounding the looming closure of Dyett High school seriously.

According to DNAInfo, Dyett students and their supporters state that CPS and the Mayor have slowly starved the school to death after it was slated to be phased out in 2012. Presently, only 13 students are enrolled in the school, which is one of the only open-enrollment schools in the area. CBS2 reports other nearby schools— King College Prep High School and Kenwood Academy High School— are selective enrollment. Dyett’s closure means Bronzeville will no longer have a school that is not a charter or turnaround school, say activists. Community groups and activists say that students were pressured over the summer by CPS to switch schools.

Though the Board of Education promised the school could phase out one class year at a time, earlier this month it said that “due to financial constraints tied to low enrollment” academic offerings at Dyett would be severely limited this year. This includes a lack of advanced placement classes, students having to take art and physical education online, no sports or after school programs and more. Students even have to enter the building through the back door.

The Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School has a plan to revitalize the school, to turn it into a “Global Leadership and Green Technology school,” but the group says months of meetings with officials have gone nowhere. Duane Turner, a member of the coalition and the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) said the sit-in was necessary to get officials to listen. “It’s come to this because we jumped through all of the hoops,” said Turner. We played by all the rules. We’ve gone to CPS and met with Barbara Byrd Bennett and David Vitale.” Turner said that Mayor Emanuel “gave his word that he would at least look at the plan,” but didn’t keep his promise.

Irene Robinson, one of the 11 demonstrators arrested, told ABC7:

“CPS has not been held accountable for the sabotage of Dyett and if it closes, we won't have a neighborhood high school in this area. The Mayor's staff made concessions last night that should never have been an issue. We appreciate this first step, but we have been ignored, disrespected, and our children have been underserved for the last three years."