Jackson escorts Fenger students to school

July 21, 2010 1:01:53 PM PDT
The Reverend Jesse Jackson helped escort Fenger High School students to and from school on Tuesday. It's his latest effort to bring attention to his plan to help stop the violence between students there. But not everyone in the community agrees with Jackson's plan.

The violence at Fenger High School has received national attention since a video tape showing the beating death of honor student Derrion Albert has been seen around the world.

Jackson is focusing on Fenger students from the Altgelt Garden Homes. They have been providing school buses for the students to and from school ever since the killing, but Jackson doesn't think the kids should be going to Fenger in the first place.

As promised, Rev. Jackson was up early Tuesday to ride on the school bus with kids from the Altgeld Garden Homes to Fenger High School. Jackson returned after school to escort the students back to the housing development.

"The tension between the communities of Roseland and Altgeld Gardens and the children in Altgeld Gardens are leaving a school five minutes that is half empty," said Jackson.

Jackson used the opportunity to renew the calls to allow the 100 or so students from Altgeld Garden to go to Carver High School which is just around the corner from the housing project. Carver was convert into an military academy forcing the students to transfer to Fenger High School.

"It don't make sense for all of us when we have a school up there closed and a school up there we can't go to. What kind of sense does that make?" said William Jenkins, Fenger H.S. student.

"There is enough space to be part military and part public and they should have that option," said Jackson.

School officials and Mayor Daley have made it clear they are not taking the students out of Fenger.

"If that was done, that would be a temporary solution to a problem that's all around our community," said Rev. Leonardo Gilbert, Shelton Heights Church of Christ.

Gilbert is one of the closest churches to the school and has been working closely with school officials, police, ministers, and community groups to come up with safe passage plans and resources. They believe that Rev. Jackson would be better off helping with the solution rather than criticizing the things he can't change.

"I appreciate the help from any pastor, from Rev. Jackson...but they can work with us and reach out to us and we will be happy to join hands if they want to come into this community and help work with us," said Gilbert.

Rev. Gilbert says one program he is working on closely with the schools is a safe passage plan. He says the Chicago Public Schools have identified 12 corners in the Roseland neighborhood where they're going to have patrols. Some of those people who will be doing the patrolling will be trained by CAPs at the end of the week.

Meantime, Rev. Jackson says he will be back on the buses on Wednesday and is thinking about filing a federal lawsuit that would try to get the kids back to Carver.


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